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The Vikings in Ireland

The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

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The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

The Vikings in Ireland Anne-Christine Larsen Editor

THE VIKING SHIP MUSEUM Roskilde 2001 The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

© The various authors & The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark 2001. All rights reserved Editor Anne-Christine Larsen Layout Keld Hansen Assistance Birthe Borch & Hanne Horsbøll Tellefsen Language corrections by Helen Davies & Gillian Fellows-Jensen Translation of exhibition texts by Helen Davies Printed in Denmark by Kannike Graphic A/S, Århus 2001 Photos and illustrations by the authors where nothing else is mentioned ISBN 87 85180 42 4 Published with support from Kongelig Dansk Ambassade, Dublin & År 2000 Fonden The publication is distributed by The Viking Ship Museum P.O. Box 298 DK-4000 Roskilde Tlf: +45 46 30 02 00 Fax: +45 46 30 02 01 Email:

Cover Front. The Soiscél Molaise shrine. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland. Back. Ship graffito from Christchurch Place. Sketch after photo from The National Museum of Ireland. The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tinna Damgård-Sørensen


Prologue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James A. Sharkey


J.J.A. Worsaae in Ireland – another Letter from Dublin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steffen Stummann Hansen


The Vikings in Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Donnchadh Ó Corráin The Viking Impact upon Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Charles Doherty Ireland’s Viking Towns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Patrick F. Wallace Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards: Sources and Contacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Sheehan


Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Stephen H. Harrison A View of the Early Irish Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Cormac Bourke Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Raghnall Ó Floinn


The Vikings in Medieval Irish Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Máire Ní Mhaonaigh Nordic Names and Loanwords in Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Gillian Fellows-Jensen Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Anne-Christine Larsen & Steffen Stummann Hansen

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 Anne-Christine Larsen The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Ulrik Federspiel References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165

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Foreword The Viking Ship Museum has a long tradition of collaboration with foreign institutions and over the past thirty years has worked with more than twenty countries from four continents. One of the closest and most valuable of these collaborations continues to be that with The National Museum of Ireland, and it has resulted in two major exhibitions: ‘Viking Ships’ at The National Museum of Ireland in the 1998-99 season, and ‘The Vikings in Ireland’ now showing at The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde until 30 December 2001. The initiative for ‘Viking Ships’ came from the Royal Danish Embassy in Dublin as part of the cultural project ‘Out of Denmark’ which was aimed at increasing knowledge of a wide spectrum of Danish culture. The exhibition was arranged jointly by the two museums, and The National Museum in Copenhagen contributed with the loan of specific artefacts. In 2000 The Viking Ship Museum opened its doors on the special exhibition ‘The Vikings in Ireland’, which was the culmination of five years of co-operation on the project. The exhibition was opened by the Irish Minister of Culture Síle de Valera and the Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney read extracts from his recent translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Traditional Irish harp music was played by Helen Davies. The exhibition covers the era of the Vikings in Ireland, which was one of the most fascinating periods in our history, covering as it did a time when there were rapid changes both in the structure of society and in cultural patterns. The Viking Age was the period when Scandinavians travelled the world to conquer, to colonise and to plunder, but it was also the period when they settled in foreign countries and established townships which became centres of specialised crafts. Trading links were set up, with well developed distribution and communication systems. Christi-

anity, which had already been dominant in Europe for several centuries, now began to gain a strong foothold in Scandinavia, replacing the old native pagan faith, and the many small kingdoms were gathered into the three larger nations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The publication of this book ‘The Vikings in Ireland’ has presented an opportunity to study the exchange of ideas that took place in Viking Age Ireland in greater depth. Particular emphasis has been laid on the influences and resultant changes brought about by the meeting of the two cultures. Just as their colonisation set its lasting traces in various places, so the Vikings took home new impressions and new impulses. They had an ability to maintain their own cultural identity for several centuries wherever they settled. This book is a compilation of articles by scholars from Ireland, England and Denmark, who by means of their specialised knowledge in different fields – archaeology, history, literature, place-names, religion and history of art, reflect upon the meeting of two very disparate cultures – the Viking and the Irish. Light is also thrown upon the mutual cultural exchange so strongly evidenced in the vast amount of existing source material. The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde forms the frame for the five Viking ships that were excavated at Skuldelev in Roskilde Fjord in 1962. The five different ships originally came from three different countries – Denmark, Norway and Ireland. The Irish longship, Skuldelev 2, was built in Dublin in 1042, and was also repaired in the same region sometime in the 1060s. This ship is one of the most visible proofs of the connection between Ireland and Denmark and it is also a manifestation of the conditions prerequisite for the Vikings’ ability to travel and leave their mark on the development of a large part of the northern hemisphere. The means for this was the highly effective clin7

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ker-built sailing ships, whose construction and sailing capacities made it possible to undertake long-distance journeys that took the Vikings far from Scandinavian shores, and also enabled them to establish and maintain trade and communication between the new settlements and their homelands. A reconstruction of the large Dublin warship is currently being built at The Viking Ship Museum and will see completion in 2004. We owe many institutions and individuals a huge vote of thanks in connection with the publication of ‘The Vikings in Ireland’. First and foremost there is an enormous debt of gratitude to the authors themselves for putting their great knowledge at our disposal and for writing the articles! I give heartfelt thanks to Curator Anne-Christine Larsen for her work in the setting up the exhibition and in editing the book. Thanks also to Helen Davies for her translation of the exhibition texts.

I would like to express a most sincere thank you to The National Museum of Ireland and to the Director, Patrick F. Wallace, without whose close co-operation and helpfulness the exhibition would not have taken place. I also thank Raghnall Ó Floinn and Paul Mullarkey. We owe a very special thanks to Ambassador James A. Sharkey, the Irish Embassy in Copenhagen, and to Ambassador Ulrik Federspiel, the Royal Danish Embassy in Dublin, for all their active help and support in connection with both the exhibition and this publication. Last, but by no means least, The Viking Ship Museum thanks År 2000 Fonden and the Royal Danish Embassy in Dublin for the financial support that made the publication of ‘The Vikings in Ireland’ possible. Tinna Damgård-Sørensen Director, The Viking Ship Museum

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Prologue When I was a boy in the North of Ireland, an old fisherman fired my imagination with tales of a fierce battle fought near my mother’s home between the Irish and the Danes. There is no hard evidence that any such encounter ever took place and, if it did, it would most likely have involved not Danes but raiders from Norway or at the least from the nearby Norse realms of the North Atlantic. It mattered not to the old man what clarifications of history or chronology scholars might bring to bear on his narrative. For him, the term Dane and Viking were one and the same and the battle was as real as if it had been fought just a few generations before: such was the romance, the power and persistence of the old Gaelic tradition and the fascination which the Vikings held in the popular Irish imagination. Little did I think when listening to the old man’s tale that one day I would serve as Ireland’s Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland, the Nordic lands whose destiny was most intimately connected with Ireland during the early middle ages. As Ambassador over the past four years, I have been fortunate to know a number of the scholars active in Irish-Viking studies whose publications have refined and, in important instances, re-defined our approach to Viking Ireland. Among these, I pay special tribute to the curators of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde whose enthusiasm for the Viking age and for Ireland is as boundless as their learning and their dedication. With imagination and energy, they organised and hosted the landmark exhibition ‘The Vikings in Ireland’ which traces the multiple, often overlapping, phases of Viking engagement in Ireland through almost 400 years: incursion, settlement, citybuilding and integration. They championed the present volume of essays which eloquently synthesises the most up-to-date scholarship and which importantly has been written with a high school

readership in mind. Above all, they have succeeded both in developing their museum as a centre of research and new ideas and in making it an appealing and informative venue for Dane and overseas visitor alike. At the opening of the exhibition ‘The Vikings in Ireland’, the Irish Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, likened the Viking longship to a great needle which threaded together a common heritage for the different peoples and cultures of the North Atlantic. Among the ships recovered from Roskilde Fjord and now on permanent display at the Viking Ship Museum, the largest and most formidable is a warship constructed in Dublin in 1042. The shipwrights were Irish or more accurately Hiberno-Scandinavian, the design classically Scandinavian. Built in the decades following the famed battle of Clontarf, the Dublin longship reminds us that despite a series of defeats and setbacks, the eleventh century witnessed not a collapse of Scandinavian influence in Ireland but an intense phase of consolidation and exchange in which the city of Dublin prospered as one of the great transit points of the North Atlantic: a centre of trade and coinage, manufacture, intermarriage and cultural interaction. Even in earlier times, the Vikings gave as well as took. Irish kings and local kingdoms benefited from the trade, the tribute and the fighting prowess of their Norse neighbours. After the dislocation of the early incursions, Irish creativity recovered its sureness and its energy and especially in metalwork magnificently made its own the style and motif of Scandinavian ornamentation. Overall, as this impressive volume shows, Scandinavian engagement with medieval Ireland – as with Britain, Normandy and Russia – was more complex, more collaborative, more constructive and more comprehensive than could ever be inferred from the resonance in tradition of the single word ‘Viking’. 9

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Through the initiative of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, a full-scale replica of the Dublin longship is now being built. At the time of writing, the keel has been laid and the timbers for the hull and frame are being cut and shaped. One day, soon, it will sail again in the Irish Sea, past Carlingford and Strangford, past Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye and the great head of Howth. And in

Dublin it will be warmly welcomed in celebration of a common heritage and the friendship and partnership which are at the heart of modern Ireland’s relations with the Danes and all the peoples of the Nordic region. James A. Sharkey Ambassador of Ireland

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J.J.A. Worsaae in Ireland – another letter from Dublin Steffen Stummann Hansen

In 1846 the Danish antiquarian Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae (1821-1885) conducted a pioneering journey to the British Isles and Ireland. Worsaae, with the support of King Christian VIII of Denmark and after requests from amongst others the Earl of Sutherland, conducted his visit in order to trace what might have survived of the Scandinavian impact on these areas in the Viking Age and Medieval Period (Worsaae 1847a) (1) (Fig. 1). A few years after his return Worsaae published the results of his journey in the book Minder om de Danske og Nordmændene i England, Skotland og Irland (Worsaae 1851). The following year the book was published in English, under the title An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland and Ireland (Worsaae 1852a), and in German (Worsaae 1852b). The journey took place in the wake of the English victories in the battles of Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807, and the Danish defeat in the Napoleonic wars. In the subsequent peace settlement, in 1814, Denmark had to accept that Norway (though excluding the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland) be separated from the Danish Kingdom. Worsaae’s visit, therefore, was undoubtedly of political importance to the attempt to regain national pride and consciousness after these defeats. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that in his publication Worsaae emphasized in particular the Danish impact on England in the Viking Age and Den-

mark’s role in creating seamanship which was to form the basis for English naval power later in history (Worsaae 1852a, 114-115). During his stay in Britain and Ireland Worsaae managed to identify a large number of objects as being of Scandinavian Viking origin. The information which he brought back to antiquarian circles in Scandinavia laid the foundations for an increased interest among archaeologists, historians, linguists etc. in the western parts of the Viking world. Furthermore, Worsaae also created the concept for, and introduced the term Viking Age (in Danish then: Vikingtid) in his publication, and eventually, in 1861, gave it the spelling in Danish (i.e. Vikingetid) in which it has survived to the present day (Worsaae 1861) (2). Worsaae arrived in Dublin, via Belfast, on the 11th November 1846 and departed Ireland again on the 8th of February 1847 (3). This means he spent almost three months there. While staying in Dublin he was hosted by Irish antiquarians and was invited to give two lectures to the Royal Irish Academy (Worsaae 1847b). Worsaae was a very diligent letter writer. A rather large number of his letters were published in the 1930s in Danish by Victor Hermansen (1894-1960) of the Danish National Museum (Hermansen 1934; 1938), including seven letters sent from Ireland (Dublin). Four of these were to his mother Margaretha Elisabeth Worsaae (179611

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Steffen Stummann Hansen 1848) while the remaining three were to Christian Jürgensen Thomsen (1788-1865), the antiquarian, both residents of Copenhagen. Hermansen also published a letter from Thomsen to Worsaae in Dublin. These eight letters have recently been published in English by David Henry, together with a re-publication of Worsaae’s two lectures to the Royal Irish Academy (D. Henry 1995). Henry’s publication also contains a short afterword by Raghnall Ó Floinn on the antiquarian contexts of Worsaae’s visit to Ireland (Ó Floinn 1995). Unmentioned by both Hermansen and Henry, another letter from Worsaae in Dublin had already been published in Denmark in 1930 (Clément 1930, 15-18). This letter, dated 28th of January, 1847, was addressed to Jonas Collin (1776-1861), a very high-ranking civil servant of the Danish state administration (Fig. 2). Collin, at the beginning of the 19th century, began a very notable and respected career in the Danish state administration (finances). He became one of the leading figures not only in matters administrative but also in social and artistic circles. During the years 1809-1855 he was the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of Denmark (Det Kongelige Landhusholdningsselskab) which had the aim of supporting the peasantry to improve methods in agriculture etc. In addition, he was interested in forestry and, in 1832, became the leading founder of the Society of the Advancement of Horse Breeding (Selskabet til Hesteavlens Fremme). During two periods, 1821-1829 and 1843-1849, he was Director of the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. He was also a great supporter of the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen at a critical time when his talent had not yet been publically recognized. In 1847, Collin as a civil servant, held the high – now obsolete – honourable title of Conferentsraad (app. = assembly secretary) (Jørgensen 1979).

Dublin, the 28th January 1847 Right Honourable Conferentsraad! On my return to Edinburgh from the Scottish Highlands I had the pleasure to receive the message that His Majesty the King, most graciously, had granted me the additional travel allowance which I had applied for, and that the money with your propitious assistance had been paid to my brother. I cannot enough express to the Right Honourable Gentleman my deep gratitude for the benevolence with which you have always supported me. I feel entirely that I have received an, according to our standards, considerable sum for my journey, but I have now been away for almost eight months, and I hardly believe that anyone would have been able to stay in England for so long, and travel around so much as I have done, unless he, as I, was provided with extremely fine recommendations. I have now spent two and a half months here in Ireland and it has indeed been an interesting experience. I have found a huge number of ancient monuments, from the ancient Celtic period as well as from the time when the Norwegians and the Danes had big possessions here. In Ireland, as in Scotland, all monuments of unknown origin are ascribed to the Danes. It is almost flattering for a Dane to experience the gratification with which the »Young Irelanders« talk about the Battle of Clontarf, in which Brian Boru defeated the Danes. It was also in the plain of Clontarf that O’Connell some years ago had planned the big popular meeting or »Monster meeting«, which was banned by the government (4). It was his intention to develop the opinion that, like Brian Boru had the Danes driven out in his time, now the English ought to be driven out. The context of political matters and movements, into which the Battle of Clontarf has been brought, has, though, naturally had the consequence that the historical truth has been misrepresented, and the Danish campaigns in Ireland are now seen in an entirely false light. I allowed myself to advance this point in some lectures to the Royal Irish Academy, and I have, particularily through that, been fortunate enough to pave the road for a closer co-operation between Irish and Scandinavian historians and antiquarians, whereby no doubt much important and new information can be obtained. The ancient Irish annals and manuscripts contain a good deal of accounts of the Norsemen’s

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J.J.A. Worsaae in Ireland – another Letter from Dublin

Fig. 1. The Danish antiquarian Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae (1821-1885). Engraving from 1869 after a woodcut by W. Obermann 1868. Photo: The Royal Library, Copenhagen. Department of maps, prints and photographs.

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Steffen Stummann Hansen wars in Ireland. I have conducted as many excursions as the circumstances have allowed here on the east coast of Ireland. It is, obviously, in no respect a propitious time for travels out in the country. The famine is spreading continuously and its partner, the Thyphus fever, has already carried off many people. A short time ago a couple of hundred starving peasants started to plunder the bakeries in the outskirts of Dublin; otherwise we haven’t experienced much of the famine here. The only thing is that the streets are packed with an astonishingly high number of beggars and people in ragged clothes. I probably don’t need to tell the Conferentsraad how extraordinarily interesting it is for a stranger to visit a country so affected by political parties and in such an exciting time, not least that the country so far, probably because of its remoteness, is only unsatisfactory known. I have so far tended to think, what most people at home do, that Daniel O’Connell, or »King Dan« as he is jocularly called here, was the head of the Liberals; that it was he in particular, who worked to raise the people to freedom and independence. I have to confess, though, that I am of a completely different opinion now. It is undeniable that O’Connell has an enormous power in Ireland; he appoints, God knows how many, members of Parliament and also a good part of the high municipal posts around the country. But he has only obtained this power by the ignorance of the people and the influence of the Catholic priests; he is the voice of the Jesuits and the remaining Catholic clergy. He is so far from being a friend of the new ideas which have spread all over Europe since the French Revolution that he, on contrary, is the representative of a party which is fighting a struggle of despair against the fast and victoriously advancing civilisation. Still, in the middle of the famine, he is ringing with the bell of Repeal to take the last pennies from the distressed people! Repeal, Repeal shall cure everything; it will make Ireland so fertile that it »can feed all Europe«, it will bring back trade and will at once make Ireland flow with milk and honey. The susceptible, one could almost say, fanatic Irish for a long time swallowed this until, a short time ago, O’Connell started to procure for his sons, relatives and friends lucrative positions under the government. Many former supporters of »Dan and Old Ireland« then started to mis-

trust him and founded an opposite party, called »Young Ireland«, whose leader, characteristically enough, is a Protestant. They are, in mind and body, Repealers. Their ideas are even more radical and indefinable, but they seem to have the advantage over O’Connell, in that their intentions are honourable. O’Connell’s great, immortal achievement is, by the way, that he forced through the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829), which is why the Catholics have given him the title: »The Liberator«. England must, truly, now pay a high price for the immense injustice which in older times was done to the Catholic Irish. If the Protestants had treated the Catholics more gently at an earlier stage, and had tried to influence them through a sensible education programme, hardly, as now 7-8 million out of approximately 10 million inhabitants, would have been Catholic and only 2-2 1/2 million Protestants. Even nowadays, with the introduction of the excellent national schools (1832), in which children of all confessions are educated together, the Protestant clergy attempted to take over power completely, and as they did not succeed in this, they instead fought the introduction of the schools, if they had it their way. Their religious prejudices did not allow them to see that education, sooner or later, will put an end to the Catholic religion in Ireland. The Irishman is of such a lively and bright nature, that he only needs a small amount of education to enable him to throw off the unworthy monastic yoke. The national schools, no doubt, will bring a brighter future for Ireland, but it is also clear that it will still take a long time, before the violent, one could even say, fanatical religious and political conflicts, which hitherto have torn and made Ireland suffer, can rest. I am sorry that I first received the letter from the Royal Agricultural Society after my arrival here in Dublin. I shall take very great pleasure in collecting as much information as I can. In a few days I intend to go across to England, where I shall probably stay for a couple of months. Afterwards it is my heartfelt wish, if possible, to go home via Paris. With many regards to Mr. Justitsraad Collin (5), I remain yours faithfully Sir with highly esteem and gratefulness. J.J.A. Worsaae.

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J.J.A. Worsaae in Ireland – another Letter from Dublin

Fig. 2. The high-ranking Danish civil servant Jonas Collin (1776-1861). Engraving by E. Eckersberg after V. Marstrand’s painting from 1844. Photo: The Royal Library, Copenhagen. Department of maps, prints and photographs.

In a letter to his mother, dated Dublin 15th January 1847, Worsaae had stated that he had written to Jonas Collin. It is evident, however, from its content, that the letter quoted above is the first one sent to Collin from Ireland. The explanation therefore is that Worsaae had written the letter already two weeks earlier than it was actually dated and sent. It has been stated, correctly, that Worsaae only occasionally referred to the desperate situation that pertained in Ireland due to the increasing famine and the political unrest; and that he tended to think that the media and Daniel O’Connell exaggerated the situation (D. Henry 1995, 8). Worsaae, in his last letter to his mother from Scotland, dated Edinburgh the 28th October 1846,

had begged her not to worry about his going to Ireland: You must not believe, for God’s sake, my dearest mother, that there is any danger in going to Ireland. The troubles there are confined to the west coast; besides, there has never been any mentioning of travellers being met with violence. The Irish are extremely polite to strangers and only rage against their fellow countrymen. But there is, as mentioned, no sign of trouble or the slightest danger on the east coast where I will be staying (Hermansen 1934, 316 – author’s translation). Worsaae only mentioned the serious political situation in the letters to his mother. In his second letter to her, dated Dublin, 17th December 1846, he mentioned the famine which was said to be very great (D. Henry 1995, 8). In the third letter, dated Dublin, 8th January 1847, Worsaae wrote: The country is calm and there does not seem to be the least fear of uprisings or similar. But there is undeniably a hard famine out in the country (D. Henry 1995, 16). In the fourth and final letter to his mother, dated Dublin, 15th January 1847, he also referred to the famine: The famine is said to be very severe out in the country, but we don’t notice it much in the city; life goes on at its usual pace. The only thing is that the city is full of beggars and people in rags (D. Henry 1995, 16). In the letter to Collin, however, the situation in Dublin is described somewhat more dramatically, as he refers to the plundering of bakeries in the outskirts of the city by hundreds of starving peasants. These details were not given to his mother, probably to avoid her becoming worried about him. Although Worsaae generally minimized the seriousness of the famine, his attitude to it was probably in good accordance with that of the privileged community in Dublin. The situation was, however, about to change exactly at that time. Cecil Woodham-Smith states that in January 1847 the seriousness of the situation was undeniable and could not be minimized anymore. Thus Charles Edward Trevelyan, head of the English Treasury, 15

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Steffen Stummann Hansen on the 12th of January 1847 admitted: This is a real famine, in which thousands and thousands of people are likely to die (Woodham-Smith 1962, 168-170). Worsaae’s letter to Collin does not add anything new to the antiquarian aspects of his visit to Ireland. The recipient, Collin, was probably much more interested in matters political and social than matters antiquarian which, of course, Worsaae knew. Worsaae’s report on and analysis of the political situation around O’Connell and the “Young Irelanders” would have, therefore, been of great interest to Collin, as well as his remarks on the national schools and the religious divide in Ireland. It is also obvious that there seemed to be a big need in Denmark for information on Ireland, which Worsaae ascribed to its remoteness. It is also interesting to note that Worsaae clearly

points at the connection between the national movement in Ireland, as represented by O’Connell, and historical monuments and events. Already in his time – only three years after the event – Worsaae noticed and emphasized O’Connell’s use of the battlefield of Clontarf for his own political agenda. The content of Worsaae’s letter emphasizes what a brilliant observer and compiler he was in all fields. We should definitely not regard him as a one-dimensional antiquarian of the 19th century. Worsaae was not living in the past but was a vivid and dedicated observer of his time. The broad approach he had demonstrated to history was also evident in his observations on contemporary current affairs (6).

Notes (1). The 150 years anniversary was commemorated at the conference Vikings in the West, held at the Lindholm Høje Museum in 1996 (Stummann Hansen 2000). (2). This happened already in an 1861 publication (Worsaae 1861) and not one from 1873 (Worsaae 1873) as has earlier been suggested (Roesdahl 1994, 159). (3). This date has been estimated on basis of various statements from Worsaae. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to obtain the exact date from the archives of the Danish National Museum.

(4). The meeting had been planned to take place on the 8th of October 1843. An intimidating military presence, however, forced O’Connell to cancel it, as he feared a massacre (Woodham-Smith 1962, 17-18). (5). Worsaae here refers to Edvard Collin (1808-1886), the son of Jonas Collin and, like his father, a prominent civil servant. He held the honourable title of Justitsraad (app. = high court judge) which was lower than the title held by his father (Topsøe-Jensen 1979). Edvard Collin was later to become the residuary legatee of Hans Christian Andersen. (6). I am grateful to John Sheehan, University College Cork, for improving and clarifying my text.

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The Vikings in Ireland Donnchadh Ó Corráin There is evidence for long-established contacts between Ireland and the Scandinavian world well before the end of the 8th century. The most eloquent witness is Dícuill the Geographer, an Irish emigré scholar at the Frankish court who reports in his Liber de mensura orbis terrae in 825 (Tierney 1967; Howlett 1999, 129-36) that the Faroes were occupied by Irish hermits since at least 725, but the islands are now empty of hermits because of Norwegian pirates, and filled with innumerable sheep (VII 14-15). Of course, the Vikings reached the Faroes before they came to the Northern and Western Isles and Ireland. The monks on the Faroes evidently knew all about them and may have had more contact with them than is generally assumed – they may even have attempted missions. Irish hermits (as we know from Dícuill and the voyage tales) were not isolated and voyages between Ireland and their hermitages in the North Atlantic may have been common enough. Because of this, their colleagues living in Ireland would have been well informed about the peoples of the north, and the references to the Vikings as gentes ‘pagans’ in the Irish annals may conceal more knowledge and experience than one might at first suspect. For all that, the first Viking raids came as a shock, one cryptically registered in the contemporary Book of Armagh: the sudden misfortunes of the great monastery of Iona brought to mind the destruction of Jerusalem. In 802 Iona was burnt by the Vikings and in 806 sixty-eight members of the community were killed during a second raid. The leadership was badly shaken and a search began for a safer location for its church treasure and perhaps senior personnel, and in 807 the building

of the new monastery at Kells was begun. The first recorded Viking raids on Irish soil took place in 795: ‘The burning of Rechru [Rathlin] by the pagans and Skye was plundered and robbed’. The prelude to the Viking attack proper is marked by desultory coastal raiding. The annals (though they are detailed) do not, of course, report all raids nor can one expect them to do so; but it is probably right to take their record as a reliable guide to what happened. The attacks on Rathlin and Skye were followed in 798 by the burning of the church on St Patrick’s Island (off Skerries), and the ‘cattle-tribute of the territories’ was taken, probably a forced levy for provisions on the mainland nearby. In the same entry the annalist refers in a general way to great incursions in Ireland and in Britain. In 807, raiders rounded the north coast of Ireland and attacked western coastal monasteries – Inishmurray off the Sligo coast and Roscam in the inner waters of Galway Bay. Now for the first time, the annals begin to report fighting between the Irish and the Vikings, skirmishes and hit-and-run actions rather than battles. In 811 the Ulaid defeated the Vikings, in 812 Éoganacht Locha Léin in the south-west drove back an attack, and later in 812 Fir Umaill, near Clew Bay, successfully resisted them while they slaughtered Conmaicne of west Galway. Small groups of two or three ships apiece may have been active on the west coast. They were back in 813 when they killed the king of Fir Umaill. By now, the Vikings had learned all they needed to know about most of Ireland’s coastline and its possibilities for plunder and colonisation, but suddenly there is silence. There are no reports of 17

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Donnchadh Ó Corráin

The early Viking rulers of Dublin. The filiation of Tomrair (†848) is uncertain. It is not known which of the sons of Ímar (†873), whether Sicfrith, Sitric or another, was father of Amlaíb (†896), Ímar (†904), Sitric Caech (†927), Godfrid (†934) and Ragnall (†921). This genealogy is constructed from the annals.

activities on the west coast or anywhere else in Ireland for eight years. Attacks begin to be reported again in 821 in the Irish Sea and on the south coast. In the distant south-west, Vikings raided the remote monastery of Skellig, 14 km off the Kerry coast, and so ill-treated its superior that he died as their prisoner. In the north-east, there were concerted attacks on coastal monasteries of the Ulaid: Bangor was struck in 823 and savagely plundered in 824. In 825 Down and Movilla were hit, but the Ulaid defeated those who had attacked the most prestigious of their monasteries. From this point, there are terse annalistic reports of severe attacks along the east coast on churches and local coastal kingdoms and significant engagements with local kings. The prelude was over: the first Viking Age proper had begun. It is possible that the earliest raids, those that occur up to the second decade of the 9th century, were mounted from south-west Norway. The more vigorous and destructive attacks in 821 and later, evidently made by larger and better organised forces, are a different matter. Because of the logis-

tical problem of bringing large fleets from Norway and because of the large numbers involved as one can infer from their activities as recounted in the annals, these probably came from nearby, and the Viking settlements in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland are the most likely bases. It is possible that the time of calm in Ireland between 813 and 821 corresponds to a period of intense activity in Scotland. Now Viking pressure mounted alarmingly. In 831 the Vikings raided Conaillne in the north of Co Louth, captured its king and his brother, and carried them off as prisoners for ransom. The community of Armagh put troops into the field to defend its dependent churches about Carlingford Lough but they were heavily defeated and the Vikings took many prisoners. This brought the wealth of Armagh to the notice of the Vikings. Early in 832 it experienced its first attacks: three times in one month. This was followed by raids on Muckno, Louth, and other churches. Then Duleek and all the churches of the territory of Ciannachta were pillaged.

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The Vikings in Ireland

The later Viking rulers of Dublin.

The raiders penetrated deeper inland with growing confidence, as they had begun to do in mainland Europe and attacked major churches. In 834, for example, Slane, situated on the Boyne seven kilometres above Drogheda, and Fennor, an important monastery some kilometres to the south of Slane, were plundered. In the south-east, the two great monastic centres of St Maedóc, patronised by the kings of south Leinster – Ferns in Co Wexford and Clonmore in Co Carlow – were raided in 835. In the same year, Mungret in Co Limerick and other West Munster monasteries were attacked. From 836 large-scale territorial incursions began with ‘the first prey of the pagans from Southern Brega [south Co Meath] … and they carried off many prisoners and killed many and took very many captives’. In the autumn, the annalist reports ‘a most cruel devastation of all the lands of Connacht by the pagans’. Clonmore in Co Carlow was burned on Christmas Eve, and many captives were taken. Mid-winter raiding for slaves proves that the Vikings were already overwintering, possibly on islands, and could hold numerous prisoners. The Life of St Fintan indicates that they were already slaving, and taking captives for sale by the middle of the 9th century (Holder-Egger 1887, 502-06; Christiansen 1962, 137-64).

In 837, a fleet of sixty ships appeared on the Boyne and another on the Liffey, very likely from the Scottish settlements, each bringing about 1500 men. They ravaged the east-coast kingdoms. Though the Uí Néill kings routed them at first, they were soon defeated ‘in a countless slaughter’. The Vikings now began to appear regularly on rivers and lakes – the Shannon, Lough Derg, the Erne, the Boyne, Lough Neagh and the Bann. They overwintered on Lough Neagh for the first time in 840-41. They had begun to build longphoirt, fortresses that protected them and their ships, and some of these became permanent. There was one at Linn Dúachaill (Annagassan, Co Louth) by 841 and another at Duiblinn (on the Liffey at or near Dublin). From Annagassan they raided deep into the midlands; from Dublin they attacked Leinster and Uí Néill. They first overwintered in Dublin in 841-42. These large-scale raids marked the beginning of the occupation of the Irish east midlands and were mounted by aristocratic freebooters and adventurers. Named leaders begin to appear in the Irish annals – Saxolb (S¸oxulfr) in 837, Turges (∏urgestr, not ∏orgisl or ∏orgeir) in 845, Agonn (Hákon) in 847. Only towards the middle of the 9th century was there any attempt by Viking kings to coordi19

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Donnchadh Ó Corráin nate attacks and settlement in Ireland, and these kings appear to belong in the Viking settlements in Scotland. This may be a re-run of what one infers happened in Scotland a generation earlier: first, small exploratory raids, then heavy plundering and slaving to break the resistance of the population, and finally occupation and the establishment of a regional kingdom. Well before the mid 9th century, a kingship of Viking Scotland had come into being and that kingdom began to exercise authority over the Vikings and their settlements in Ireland, though not of course over all, for the annals continue to report the activities of freewheeling adventurers. Three important entries in the annals record the activity of Viking royals in Ireland in 848, 849 and 853. All three have connections (explicit or implied) with a kingdom called Lothlend, Laithlind, Laithlinn, later Lochlainn that is to be identified with the Viking kingdom in Scotland. The first occurs in the Annals of Ulster, 848: ‘A battle was won by Ólchobar king of Munster and Lorcán mac Cellaig with the Leinstermen against the pagans at Sciath Nechtain in which fell Tomrair (∏órir) the earl (erell), heir-designate of the king of Laithlind and 1200 about him’. This took place at a strategic place, Castledermot, Co Kildare, not far from Dublin where a Viking settlement had been established in 841-42. The Irish leaders were amongst the most powerful provincial kings in the country, the troops involved were numerous, and the slaughter was immense. ∏órir the earl (Marstrander 1915, 77-78, 115; Ó Corráin 1987) was evidently a very important person, even if the identity of the king whose heir he was remains uncertain. This was a battle of major significance, even if we take the annalist’s estimate of the slain, as we ought, to be merely a conventional expression for a very large number. The next entry that refers to an overseas ‘king of the Foreigners’ occurs in the same annals for 849: ‘A sea-going expedition of 140 ships of the people of the king of the Foreigners came to exercise au-

thority over the Foreigners who were in Ireland before them and they upset all Ireland afterwards’. Evidently, this was a violent attempt by a king of the Vikings to compel the independent Vikings in Ireland to submit to royal authority, and it was fiercely resisted. If the annalist’s estimate of the number of ships is correct, some 4000 men may have been involved in this expeditionary force. The final entry in this series occurs four years later in the same annals for 853: ‘Amlaíb (Óláfr) son of the king of Laithlind came to Ireland and the Foreigners of Ireland gave him hostages and he got tribute from the Irish’. The differing treatment of Irish and Viking as tribute payers and hostage givers respectively may be significant. Within the conventions of Irish political discourse, the annalistic text indicates that the Viking settlers are treated as free, the Irish as a subject population. At this point, it is likely that only a small number of Irish kingdoms submitted to Viking overlordship. All these entries refer to major expeditions to Ireland by leaders who were recognised as royal by the Irish annalists. Very large numbers of troops and ships were involved and their purpose was conquest, control of the Vikings already settled in Ireland, and the imposition of taxes on Irish kingdoms. All are associated with the kingdom of Viking Scotland. Some time in the 850s or early 860s its dynasty moved its main operations to Dublin (Ó Corráin 1998, 296-399). We find its leaders, who are called kings – Amlaíb, Ímar and their brother Auisle – very active in Ireland and engaging in significant warfare and politics with the major Irish kings (for details, Ó Corráin 1979, 30614; Jaski 1995, 316-21). They failed to make major territorial conquests – not because they did not want to but because they were unable to do so, for Irish resistance was vigorous and effective. The Vikings played an important role in the struggles between the Irish overkings, but they themselves did not initiate any successful largescale campaigns of conquest. They were useful but

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The Vikings in Ireland dangerous allies and mercenaries. For example, in the battle of Killineer near Drogheda in 868 between Aed Finnliath, king of Tara (r. 862-79) and his enemies, the kings of Brega and Leinster, 300 or more Vikings took part, led by Carlus, son of Amlaíb of Dublin, and very many of them were killed. In the second half of the 9th century, the kingdom of Dublin was by far the most powerful Viking centre and it tried to dominate all Viking activity in Ireland. Evidently, the dynasty usually kept good control and, for the most part, was able to exclude independent operators in the later 9th century, certainly from its own central areas of interest. However, along the Irish coast there were other settlements and longphoirt that seem to be independent. There was a Viking fleet at Waterford that came up the Nore to attack Osraige in 860 and was routed below Kilkenny. A Viking longphort at Dunrally, on the Barrow was successfully attacked in 862 (E.P. Kelly 1995). There was a settlement at Youghal on the south coast, but its fleet was defeated in 866 and its longphort destroyed. Limerick Vikings raiding in Connacht were slaughtered in 887. Osraige, accessible by the Barrow, seems to have been particularly vulnerable to Viking aggression: it was attacked unsuccessfully in 863 and again in 872 – troubles that may have been due to the Vikings of Waterford, Wexford and St Mullins, who were defeated by Osraige in 892. These operated independently like earl Tomrar who plundered Clonfert in 866 and died within a few days of reaching his longphort – killed by the vengeance of the saintly patron, the annalists note with satisfaction. Longphoirt on the north coast may have been under the control of Dublin. In 866, Aed Finnliath plundered these, took their flocks and herds – and this seems to imply that they had extensive settlements and farmed lands about their fortresses. He then defeated the Vikings on Lough Foyle and killed 240 of them. If his success held back the economic development of the north and ultimate-

ly prevented the growth of port towns like those on the east and south coasts (as some suggest), he stopped the Dublin rulers establishing a coastal territory in the north-east, linking them to their possessions in the Hebrides and the Scottish west coast. Unsuccessful in winning large territories in Ireland, the Dublin rulers turned to Britain. In 866, commanding the Vikings of Ireland and Scotland (that is, those from the Western and Northern Isles), they invaded Southern Pictland, then plundered the whole of Pictland, and took hostages, the normal means used by overkings in enforcing their political authority over other kings. And they imposed a tribute on Pictland. It is clear from the annals that they returned to Dublin, and for the next four years there is a fairly detailed account of their activities – enough to show that Dublin was their base of operations. However, in 870 the Dublin kings turned again to Scotland: they besieged Dumbarton on the Clyde, took it after four months, and destroyed it. Next year (clearly they spent a considerable time campaigning in Scotland), they ‘came back to Dublin from Scotland with 200 ships and they brought with them in captivity… a great prey of Angles, Britons and Picts’. The Dublin kings smashed the power of the Strathclyde Britons and established their authority over them; they may also have re-asserted their authority over Pictland as a whole; and, if the Anglian captives were taken in their homeland, they may have been raiding in Lothian as well. After the death of Ímar in 873 and of Amlaíb (perhaps in 874), dynastic strife broke out and Dublin was soon being fought over by at least three rival families. Amlaíb’s son was murdered in 875; there were more dynastic feuds and killings in 883 and 888; and in 893 there was further major conflict between rival leaders. The power of Dublin was ebbing fast and the decisive defeat came in 902 when the kingdoms of Brega to the north and Leinster to the south joined forces against it. As the annalist records: ‘The pagans were driv21

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Donnchadh Ó Corráin en from Ireland, i.e. from the fortress of Dublin … and they abandoned a good number of their ships, and escaped half-dead after they had been wounded and broken’. The first Viking kingdom of Dublin had ended and its dynasty returned to Scotland. In 904, two ‘grandsons of Ímar’ killed the king of Pictland in battle and Ímar ua hÍmair, ex-king of Dublin, was killed in Strathearn warring on Pictland – evidently struggling to keep the dynasty’s grip on the Scottish lowlands. Then the dynasty disappears from view for about a decade until Ragnall’s campaigns in Northumbria. He won a victory over the English and the Scots at Corbridge in 914 and granted lands to his followers (Smyth 1975-79,i 62-63, 100-13). The rapid rise of a new Scandinavian power in northern Britain, uniting the Hiberno-Norse west and the Danish east, was a serious threat to its neighbours and soon its influence was felt in Ireland. In 913 a sea-fleet of the Ulaid was defeated on the English coast by the Vikings. In 914, Ragnall extended his activities to Man. In Ireland, the second Viking Age began suddenly with ‘the arrival of a great sea-fleet of pagans in Waterford Harbour’ in 914. In 917 two leaders of the exiled Dublin dynasty joined in the renewed attack and, though their relationship to the Waterford fleets of 914-15 is not at all clear, they took control of Viking activities in Ireland. Ragnall, called rí Dubgall ‘king of the Danes’ because he had made himself king of Danish Northumbria, came with a fleet to Waterford. His kinsman, Sitric Caech, commanded another fleet on the Leinster borders. Their arrival soon led to conflict with Niall Glúndub, king of Tara. He was keenly aware of the threat of Ragnall’s northern kingdom to northeastern Ireland. Quite apart from that, the belief that the king of Tara was king of Ireland and defender of the land was by now well established, and clearly the newcomers were bent on conquest. He marched into Munster in August 917, but

there was no decisive engagement: Ragnall and Niall Glúndub were too cautious, perhaps because too much was at stake. The Leinstermen attacked Sitric but they were heavily defeated: their king fell with many of his notables and Sitric re-took Dublin. In 918 Ragnall led his Waterford fleet back to north Britain and made himself king of York and ruler of Northumbria and Cumbria. He died in 920 or 921 and in his obit he is called ri Finngall & Dubgall ‘king of the Norse and the Danes’ – an accurate description of his mixed Scandinavian kingdom. The Dublin-York axis that was to have such influence in Ireland and England for over half a century had been established, and the dynasty of Dublin was now more powerful than before. In September 919, Niall Glúndub marched on Dublin but he was heavily defeated at Islandbridge up-river from Dublin, and he himself was slain. Never before had so many notables been killed in battle by the Vikings and the defeat clearly shocked contemporaries. Next year, Sitric left Dublin to claim the kingdom of York. Here he ruled peacefully until his death in 927. He met king Athelstan in conference at Tamworth in 926, became a Christian of sorts, and was given the king’s sister in marriage. His kinsman, Godfrid, ruled Dublin in his place and was active as a raider, slaver, and would be conqueror. There was an intense Viking campaign in eastern Ulster from about 921 to 927 (and it was taken up again later), led by Dublin and using large fleets, to create a Scandinavian kingdom like that on the east side of the Irish Sea (Smyth 1975-79, ii 23). In 923 a Viking fleet on Carlingford Lough raided the monastery of Killeavy. Next year, the Vikings of Strangford Lough killed the rígdamna (‘royal heir’) of Ulaid, but they lost ‘a great sea-fleet’ on the bar of Dundrum Bay where 900 or more of them were drowned. In 926 the Strangford Vikings plundered Dunseverick, a fortress on the Antrim coast, and killed and took captive a large number. All this activity points

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The Vikings in Ireland to a major attempt at conquest but the plan to set up a regional kingdom on the east Ulster coast was foiled by Muirchertach mac Néill, king of the Northern Uí Néill. He defeated the Carlingford Vikings in 926 and killed 200 of them. The Strangford fleet, under Godfrid’s son, moved south in September 926 to avoid him but Muirchertach defeated them and besieged them near Newry until they were relieved by an expedition from Dublin led by Godfrid himself. In 927, on the death of Sitric, king of York, king Athelstan took control of Northumbria. Godfrid hurriedly left Dublin to claim York, but he was driven out by Athelstan and returned to Dublin within six months. In his absence, the Vikings of Limerick took Dublin. Godfrid re-took the city, but the struggle with Limerick went on well after his death in 934. His son Amlaíb resumed the struggle with Limerick and his father’s attempt to conquer eastern Ulster. In August 937 he defeated and captured the Limerick leader, smashed his fleet, and brought him prisoner to Dublin. This striking victory occurred as Amlaíb turned his attention to York and to organising a north British alliance that led first to his defeat in the battle of Brunanburh, and then to the kingship of York. The essential background to Brunanburh was the expanding power of Wessex under Athelstan. The submission of Constantine, king of the Scots and Owain, king of Strathclyde, to Athelstan at Eamont/Dacre in 926 marked a significant stage in his expanding influence (Stenton 1970), and a major threat to the Irish-Sea and Scottish interests of the Scandinavian dynasty of York and Dublin. Amlaíb was the ringleader of a grand alliance against Athelstan, but much of the background is murky, as it should be. Evidently, the king of Dublin was the foremost figure in Viking society in the British Isles. Florence of Worcester calls him ‘the pagan Anlaf [Amlaíb], king of the Irish and of many islands’ (Smyth 1975-79, ii 78) and this is how he appeared to English observers. We must infer

that Dublin had real power and influence in the Irish Sea, the Hebrides, Scotland and northern England – resources that made it much more formidable than the limited assets in land and manpower that it and its satellite Waterford held in Ireland. It was a sea-kingdom, the centre of economic and political interests at a remove from the observation of those who gave us our written sources for Irish and English history. Brunanburh, a ‘great, lamentable and horrible battle’ (as the Ulster annalist puts it) was a striking victory for Athelstan. Amlaíb made his escape, and returned to Dublin in 938, perhaps after a period in Scotland. When Athelstan died in October 939 Amlaíb sailed with his fleet for England. He reached York before the end of the year and was made king by the Northumbrians who needed a leader of status in their struggle against Wessex. He followed this up with a major campaign south of the Humber, supported and accompanied by Wulfstan, archbishop of York. The result was a negotiated settlement with king Edmund, Athelstan’s brother and successor, by which Amlaíb was recognised as king of York and ruler of Danish Mercia – almost half the kingdom of England (Smyth 1975-79, ii 89-103). He died in 941 and was succeeded by his kinsman, Amlaíb Cuarán, who soon lost Danish Mercia to Edmund. In 943 the kings were at peace and Edmund stood sponsor for Amlaíb Cuarán at baptism, but before the end of the year Amlaíb Cuarán was expelled from York. He returned to Ireland in 945 and ruled Dublin (apart from another brief interlude at York) until his defeat in 980. In the mid 10th century, major shifts took place in the balance of power between the Irish dynasties. There were very fierce struggles in which Amlaíb Cuarán played his part – as an ally, and as a king who greatly expanded Dublin’s territorial influence in the course of these conflicts. Before Amlaíb Cuarán’s return from York, Congalach, king of Tara (r. 944-56), allied himself with the king of Leinster and sacked Dublin with a new 23

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Donnchadh Ó Corráin ferocity: ‘The destruction brought upon it was this: its houses, house-enclosures, its ships and its other structures were burned; its women, boys and common folk were enslaved; its men and its warriors were killed; it was altogether destroyed, from four persons to one, by killing and drowning, burning and capture, apart from a small number that fled in a few ships and reached Dalkey’. And the victors plundered the city for jewels, valuables and textiles. As king of Dublin, Amlaíb Cuarán was Congalach’s ally and subordinate but events in England drew him to brighter prospects: the death of king Edmund and the succession of Eadred opened the way for a second and successful attempt at the kingship of York, which he held probably with the consent of the English king from c. 948 until his expulsion in 952 (Smyth 1975-79, ii 155-90). He was back as king of Dublin in 953, and allied himself now with one side, now with the other, in the dynastic wars. In 976 the Dublin-Leinster entente broke down and Dublin, though now without allies, felt strong enough to attack its neighbours and expand its territory by conquest. In 977, Amlaíb Cuarán killed the son of Domnall ua Néill, king of Tara, who was governor of Meath and Brega and the most important military leader in the area. Next year, the Dubliners defeated and killed the king of Leinster in a pitched battle near Athy, and in 979 they captured his successor and sacked Kildare. This provoked a violent Irish reaction. Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill, king of Meath, inflicted a crushing defeat (the annalist calls it ‘a red slaughter’) on the Dubliners at Tara in 980. Amlaíb Cuarán commanded the troops of Dublin and the Hebrides, and the presence of Hebridean troops as much as the location of the battle must suggest that the encounter was part of a long-planned attack on the Uí Néill heartland. It failed, and this defeat broke the military power of Dublin. Mael Sechnaill followed up his victory by leading a large army to Dublin and besieging the city for three days and three nights. The Dubliners made terms

with him: the freeing of all Irish hostages including the king of Leinster and the hostages of the Uí Néill, the handing over of treasure and valuables, and the freeing of all the lands of the Uí Néill from the Shannon to the sea from tribute and exaction. Mael Sechnaill further proclaimed the liberty and return of all Irish slaves in the territory of the Vikings – that, says the annalist, was ‘the Babylonian captivity of Ireland, second only to the captivity of hell’. These annalistic records reveal the extensive territorial power, whether exercised directly or through subordinate rulers, of Viking Dublin in the period 950-980. Amlaíb Cuarán went to Iona as a penitent, and died there in religious retirement later in 981. Dublin was now under the indirect rule of Mael Sechnaill, and remained quietly so until Sitric Silkenbeard, son of Amlaíb Cuarán, succeeded in 989 and apparently made a bid for independence. Mael Sechnaill defeated him, and besieged the city for three weeks until his conditions were met to the full. In the mid 10th century, Dál Cais whose lands straddled the strategic lower Shannon, rose to power in the political room left by the decline of the Munster kings (Kelleher 1967, 230-41). In 976, king Mathgamain of Dál Cais defeated the Vikings of Limerick, destroyed their fleet, plundered their settlement on King’s Island, and attacked the dún (‘fortress’) of Limerick. In 972 he and the Munster leaders made three resolutions: to banish Viking mercenaries, to expel the Vikings from Limerick, and to burn it. Mathgamain was murdered by rivals in 976 and was succeeded by his brother, Brian Boru (J. Ryan 1967). Brian’s first act was ruthless: he killed Ímar king of Limerick and his two sons in the church of Scattery where they had sought sanctuary (this evidently shocked contemporaries), and in 978 he inflicted a crushing defeat on the Vikings of Limerick and other local rulers – a taste of things to come. As a matter of policy, he dominated the Viking cities and laid hands on their resources and trade revenues (in-

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The Vikings in Ireland cluding their fleets) to support his ambition to become king of Ireland. He used the fleet of Waterford in his expeditions of 984 and 988, the cavalry of Dublin in his attack on Meath in 1000, its fleet in his campaign in the north in 1006 and 1007. It is likely that his thorough absorption of Limerick betrayed the policy that Dublin feared as he extended his authority over the whole country, and this spurred its determined hostility to him. In 997 Brian and Mael Sechnaill divided Ireland between them, and Mael Sechnaill handed over to Brian the hostages of Dublin and Leinster, thus making Brian lord of Dublin and Leinster. Next year, both kings joined in taking further hostages of good conduct from the Vikings. Late in 999 Dublin and Leinster revolted against Brian, and Sitric Silkenbeard was the instigator. Brian and Mael Sechnaill came on a great expedition to Glenn Máma near Dunlavin in Wicklow where they were attacked by the Dubliners and the Leinstermen. These were heavily defeated. Brian took the king of Leinster and held him until he got his hostages. Then he sacked and burned the city of Dublin and besieged the fortress. Sitric Silkenbeard had fled to Ulster, but he could find no refuge in Ireland. He finally gave hostages to Brian who restored him and re-granted him the fortress of Dublin to hold of him. Brian now had the troops, fleets and taxes of Dublin at his disposal in his final and successful effort to become king of Ireland. About 1012 the first rumblings of revolt against Brian began: the Dubliners were restive. Mael Sechnaill ravaged their lands as far as Howth, but at Drinan, near Kinsealy, they and their Leinster allies defeated him. Meanwhile, Brian fortified Munster, and next year his troops ravaged Leinster as far as Glendalough, and the territory of Dublin as far as Kilmainham. Dublin replied by sending ships on a plundering raid to the south coast of Munster. Brian fortified the Limerick area against such raids, and then campaigned against the Dubliners in Leinster from September to Christmas

1013 and harried Leinster as far as Dublin. The campaign ended indecisively, and in the respite of late winter and early spring of 1014 the Dubliners built up a powerful defensive alliance including Sigurd earl of Orkney, Brodir who commanded a Viking fleet probably from Man, and troops from the Hebrides. Sitric Silkenbeard provisioned Dublin by raiding Meath and Brega. In April 1014 Brian and Mael Sechnaill led their armies to Dublin to engage the alliance, but Mael Sechnaill withdrew and left Brian and the Munstermen (with some Connacht forces) to face the Viking confederates and the Leinstermen. The battle that followed, at Clontarf on the coast north of Dublin, lasted all day from sunrise to late evening on Good Friday, 23 April. Eventually, the Vikings and the Leinstermen were routed with great slaughter. The flowing tide cut the Vikings off from their ships and Brian’s troops barred their flight southwards and across the bridge to the city. Losses on both sides were heavy. Brian, whom the annalist extravagantly describes as ‘the Augustus of the whole of north-western Europe’, was killed by fleeing Vikings and many of the notables of Munster fell in the battle. Donnchad, Brian’s son, led the Munster troops home, and the bodies of Brian and his sons were taken to Armagh and his obsequies were performed with great ceremony – ‘the community of St Patrick waked the bodies for twelve nights in honour of the dead king’ (J. Ryan 1938). The battle of Clontarf, though spectacular, was not a struggle between the Vikings and the Irish for the rule of Ireland. It did not alter irrevocably the status of Dublin: change came more gradually (Ó Corráin 1986). Rather, it was part of the great internal Irish struggle for sovereignty over the whole country. It dealt the Dál Cais kingship of Ireland a serious blow, but its effect was shortlived. Dublin, the prime mover, was fighting for its survival as a prosperous, self-governing and nearly autonomous city-state (with a rich hinterland and with overseas interests in Man, Wales, 25

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Donnchadh Ó Corráin north-western England, Scotland and the Western and Northern Isles) which Brian threatened to absorb and subordinate within the new kingdom of Ireland. He was doing to Dublin what Athelstan and his successors had done to York, and the Dubliners resisted fiercely. But there is another aspect of the battle. The protagonists were closely related. Mael Sechnaill had been married to Sitric’s mother, Gormlaith and, therefore, was Sitric’s step-father. Donnchad, son of Brian, was the uterine brother of Sitric Silkenbeard and he was married to the daughter of the Viking ruler of Waterford. Two of Gormlaith’s three husbands were involved and, for good measure, her son, Sitric Silkenbeard, was married to a daughter of her former husband Brian. Brian, then, was stepfather and father-in-law of Sitric Silkenbeard and Donnchad, son of Brian, was first cousin of Sitric, who was brother-in-law of Olafr Tryggvasson, king of Norway. Clontarf was the most notable military conflict within this bilingual Irish and Viking elite of the late 10th and early 11th century that shared a common culture – political, literary and artistic. In time, the more powerful Irish kings dominated Dublin and as the struggle of the kings gathered momentum it became an important prize. When Donnchad, son of Brian, marched north against Meath and Brega in 1026, he camped in peace for three days beside the fortress of Dublin. The Dubliners knew how to deal, the king how to profit from his position. Control over Dublin passed from one to the other of the kings. First, to Donnchad son of Brian; then to Diarmait king of Leinster, who installed his son Murchad as king. When Murchad died in 1070 the annalists calls him ‘lord of the Foreigners and king of Leinster under his father’ and he was buried in Dublin. When Diarmait himself fell in battle in 1072 the Irish annalist entitles him ‘king of Wales and of the Isles and of Dublin’ – evidence that Diarmait’s influence extended to the overseas territories of the Dublin Vikings. Tairdelbach, grandson of Brian, was overlord of Dublin in turn and later

Gofraid, king of Dublin, did him homage. When they fell out in 1075, Tairdelbach expelled him and made his son Muirchertach king of Dublin, and he ruled it until he succeeded his father as king of Munster (and Ireland) in 1086. Dublin was Muirchertach’s capital, and there he kept his hostages. When challenged by the Leinstermen, he defeated them in battle at Dublin in 1115 and made his son Domnall ruler of the city. His authority extended to Man and the Western Isles. He dominated the Viking cities (Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Cork) and he took care to have reforming bishops of his choice appointed to them. He dealt craftily with Magnus Barelegs, king of Norway, who came adventuring in the west in 1098 – taking the Orkneys, the Hebrides and Man, perhaps even Galloway and Gwynedd, and threatening Ireland – and again in 1102 (Power 1986, Candon 1988, Duffy 1992). Control of Dublin and its resources had become part of being a credible claimant to the kingship of Ireland. This is clear from the annals and from a passage in the Laws describing the king of Ireland, and very likely dating from the reign of Muirchertach: do righ Erunn cin freasabra ….i. in tan bit na hinbir fui, Ath Cliath Port Lairge Luimniuch olcheana ‘to the king of Ireland without opposition … i.e. when the estuaries are under his control: Dublin and Waterford and Limerick besides’ (Ó Corráin 1994). The new claimant to the kingship of Ireland, Tairdelbach Ua Conchobair, king of Connacht, signalled his intentions by attacking Munster and Dublin in 1118. He besieged Dublin, took the hostages of northern Ireland by force from the city (evidently Ua Briain still kept his northern hostages there), expelled Ua Briain’s son who was its ruler, and he himself took the kingship of Dublin. In 1126 he installed his son Conchobar as king. In the 1130s, when he was beset by troubles on all sides, his enemy, Diarmait Mac Murchada king of Leinster, was able to lay hands on the resources of Dublin – 200 ships, as the annals record in 1137.

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The Vikings in Ireland From 1145 Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, king of the North, was a contender for the kingship of Ireland. When he marched around Ireland in 1149 he ‘made a perfect peace between the Vikings and the Irish’ – a cryptic phrase that at the least implies that he had control of Dublin. As his power grew, he too wished to rule Dublin directly. In 1154 he marched on the city and the Vikings accepted him as king; in return for their submission, he made them a royal grant of 1200 cows, an enormous sum in contemporary terms. Mac Murchada, now his ally, joined with him in dominating the Vikings, but force was again needed in 1162 when Mac Lochlainn and Mac Murchada attacked Dublin. They spent a week plundering the territory of Dublin and burning its corn. Mac Lochlainn besieged the city, but his cavalry was routed in an engagement, and he abandoned the struggle without battle, leaving it to Mac Murchada to finish the task. In the words of the annalist, ‘he plundered the Foreigners and he obtained great sway over them, such as was not obtained for a long time’, and they handed over 120 ounces of gold in compensation to Mac Lochlainn. Mac Lochlainn’s cause collapsed suddenly early in 1166 and Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, king of Connacht, moved swiftly to make himself king of Ireland and crush his enemies, among them Mac Murchada. The Dubliners handed over hostages, formally recognised him as king of Ireland and their king, and joined forces with him in deposing Mac Murchada, who left Ireland looking for for-

eign help. He came back in 1167 and a sizable force of Normans arrived in May 1169, followed by still larger one in 1170. In quick succession, the Viking cities of Wexford, Waterford, and Dublin fell to Mac Murchada and his Normans, though they put up a determined resistance. Dublin fell on the feast of St Matthew, 21 September 1170, a date that marks the end of Viking Dublin as a political entity (Orpen 1911, Curtis 1908). The Viking cities became the property of the English crown and in time their populations lost their separate identity (Curtis 1908, Bugge 1900, Bugge 1904, Sommerfelt 1957). Bugge collected a mass of evidence from administrative documents – charters, grants, inquisitions and the like – that prove that Old-Norse continued to be spoken down to the middle of the 13th century and beyond. After the conquest, the Vikings (now called Ostmen) were given their own settlement near Dublin; it was still called Austmannabyár in 1192, a name that survived until 1488. The good burghers of Dublin had every reason to speak Norse: money talked in the form of their lucrative trade with their fellow Scandinavians and they had kept up social and cultural as well as commercial connections with Norway and Iceland at the highest level – at least until the Norman conquest. Though they continued for a long time as discrete OldNorse-speaking communities they were ultimately absorbed, legally and culturally, into the English colony in Ireland.

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The Viking Impact upon Ireland Charles Doherty Irish society in the pre-Viking age has often been described as archaic and conservative. It certainly exhibited both features. But today scholars are of the opinion that these aspects have been greatly exaggerated. The First International Congress of Celtic Studies was held in Dublin in 1959. The Proceedings were published in 1962 (Ó Cuív 1962). The contributions dealt with the impact of the Vikings on many aspects of life – language, place-names, art, literature and history. A reading of these contributions, however, reveals the attitude of the scholars at the time. The underlying assumption for all of them was the fact the Vikings had brought about great changes – their task was to explain what the changes were. Yet each of them expressed reservations when they considered how long it seemed to take for the changes to take effect. No one examined Irish society in the 8th century to see just what kind of society the Vikings had met when they first arrived. The contribution of Professor Binchy, perhaps, encapsulated the spirit of the time. He had devoted his life to a study of the early Irish law tracts and he saw that the society of post-Viking Ireland was very different to what he had found in the laws. The title of his article, ‘The Passing of the Old Order’ (Binchy 1962, 119-32), had been taken from the opening line of a late 16th-century poem in which the poet bemoans the collapse of Gaelic society in the face of the English conquest. For Professor Binchy the Norse, ‘had a profound – one might even say a shattering – effect upon native Irish institutions’ (Binchy 1962, 119). Until recently this analysis of the impact of the Norse, allowing for some attempts at modifying it, was

the widely held view among the majority of scholars. Professor Binchy believed that: as early as the 10th century some radical transformations had occurred; and I believe that most, if not all, of them may be ascribed to the impact of the Norse invaders upon the traditional order of society. Indeed, I regard the challenge from the Norsemen as a watershed in the history of Irish institutions (Binchy 1962, 121).

As in so many of the contributions to the First International Congress it is the 10th (and in some cases the 11th) century that exhibits change. It would seem that it had taken over 100 years to bring about the transformation of society. Professor Binchy argued that the extreme fragmentation of Irish society with its petty tribal kingships meant that the Vikings made slow progress in conquering large areas and he made a contrast with Anglo-Saxon England: In their operations on the other side of the Irish Sea, the invaders, once they had defeated the ruler of an AngloSaxon kingdom, would inherit a nucleus of administrative institutions with which to work. In Ireland, on the contrary, there was no machinery of government by which the tribesmen, whose allegiance was personal to the king and the ‘sacred’ dynastic blood, could be forced to collaborate with the conquerors (Binchy 1962, 123).

As a result of this the Vikings were forced to settle in small pockets on the coast and concentrate on trade. And this trade in turn produced urban life for the first time in Ireland. Although Professor Binchy acknowledged that large 29

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Charles Doherty churches or monasteries had considerable populations and a degree of administrative functions yet there was no question of them having an urban function: But the idea of a town, with a corporate personality distinct from that of the ruler, was quite foreign to the Gaelic mind until the Scandinavians set up their ‘cities’ in Dublin, Limerick, Waterford and elsewhere. Slowly, indeed unwillingly, the Irish followed their example; but though a few monastic settlements eventually grew into towns, all the larger urban centres are of Norse provenance. It would be difficult to exaggerate the formidable impact of these prosperous trading stations, with their local and overseas markets, their cash and credit sales, upon the primitive economy of their Irish neighbours (Binchy 1962, 122).

He also suggested that the Norse ‘forced a primitive and pastoral society to adopt, very much against the grain, a more progressive economic technique’ (Binchy 1962, 131). When Professor Binchy used the terms ‘primitive pastoralism’ and ‘progressive economic technique’ we are brought to the crux of the problem. Ireland was a non-feudal, tribal society, conservative, with institutions and rituals that had roots in the distant Indo-European past. Scholars had tended to look for Indo-European parallels and when they were found it re-enforced the idea that society was archaic and deflected attention away from the contemporary situation in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries. It was this ‘backward look’ that coloured much of the writing of earlier scholars. Of course the idea that the ‘Golden Age’ of early Ireland was shattered by the pagan Norse rather than change brought about by the Irish themselves may have provided some comfort. If we may now argue that Irish society was neither as conservative nor archaic as had previously been thought what was it like when the initial impact happened? Situated on the outermost fringes of Northwest Europe Ireland looks geographically isolated

but this was never the case. The Romanisation of Britain brought Ireland within the culture province of the Roman Empire. Not only new technology but also new ideas entered Ireland through trade and commerce. By the 4th century Christianity was beginning to win converts in Ireland and with Christianity came literacy. It is very likely that some people in direct contact with the Roman world through trade, marriage, or mercenary activity had acquired knowledge of writing even before the introduction of Christianity (Stevenson 1989). Certainly by the late 4th century Irish people had begun to settle in Wales and Cornwall and not long afterwards in Scotland and the Isle of Man. With the activity of Patrick from Britain and Palladius from Gaul these links were intensified and widened. When the Irish clergy, in their turn, went to Britain and the Continent avenues of influence were established. From the Picts of Scotland, the Anglo-Saxons, Franks, and the people of the Mediterranean the Irish drew inspiration from literature and art. Nothing was slavishly imitated. But rather the new elements were fused with native tradition to produce what can justifiably be labelled a ‘Golden Age’ during the course of the 7th century. This was a self-confident society, aware of its ancient Christian origins, and capable of manipulating aspects of its pagan past for its current aetiological and propaganda needs without fear of paganism itself (McCone 1990). Irish canon law was not merely local legislation but sought to provide a framework for the Christian community on the earth (Sheehy 1982). Adamnán, at the very close of the 7th century sought to reduce the barbarism of warfare in his Lex Innocentium, ‘Law of the Innocents’, that forbade the killing of women and children (J. Ryan 1936). He was perhaps the first in Europe to discuss the ordination of kings in an attempt to produce a specifically Christian form of kingship (Enright 1985). A great deal of what we know about the high-kingship of Tara comes to us from the clerical writers of the 7th century.

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The Viking Impact upon Ireland Their focus upon Tara shows how they had identified an institution that transcended all the petty tribal kingships of the island and pointed in the direction of a monarchy of the whole island. If such could be achieved then the incessant petty warfare might be reduced if not eliminated altogether. That a kingship of all Ireland took a very long time to come close to being a reality is not a sign of failure on the part of the 7th-century clergy but rather emphasizes their far-sightedness and extraordinary courage in making use of a distinctly pagan institution and their ability to give it a Christian gloss. By the mid 7th century the major churches were centres of population. In the Liber Angeli, (in the Book of Armagh) dating to the mid 7th century we are told that there was a northern and a southern district in Armagh (Bieler 1979). In the southern area was the basilica wherein reposed relics of Peter and Paul, Lawrence and Stephen, and a linen cloth with the blood of Christ on it. The clergy processed to this church on Sundays singing psalms. The laity attended church in the northern district. The settlement contained a secular clergy, monks, nuns, and a married lay population. It took care of the sick, disabled, unwanted children and others. It had sanctuary lands encircling the core of the site. Beyond lay its estates, some at a great distance from the centre and detached. It had dependent churches in distant parts. All of these properties were worked by lay people called manaig, tenants (Ă“ CorrĂĄin 1981; Charles-Edwards 1984). The Liber Angeli defined the boundaries of an enormous territory within which Armagh exercised direct pastoral care. She was also laying claim to the position of chief church in Ireland and as this claim was accepted her patron saint, Patrick, was made to visit distant parts of the island by his biographers. And from distant parts taxes and tribute flowed towards Armagh. Kildare was the metropolitan church of Leinster. By the mid 7th century she was under the patronage of the King of the province. Despite hav-

ing ambitions similar to Armagh, for political reasons she could not sustain them. A life of St. Brigit, the founder of the church, was written about the middle of the century by Cogitosus (Connolly & Picard 1987). He gives a description of the recently renovated church. It soars to a great height. This church must have been made of wood. The chancel is hidden by an iconostasis. From this partition another divides the nave into two halves the length of the church. The male population enter from a door on the right side and the female from a door on the left side. The religious from each side enter the chancel through two doors in the chancel screen. In the chancel the bodies of St. Brigit and bishop Conlaed lie in sarcophagi on either side of the altar. Above them are suspended crowns of gold and silver. The church is surrounded by its sanctuary lands. We are told that it is a safe place of refuge for all fugitives and the royal treasures are in safe keeping there. It is clear that this church too had a considerable population which was swollen on the feast day of the saint. While it may be an exaggeration to argue that these church settlements were towns in the 7th century they were certainly ceremonial centres (Doherty 1985). They had a religious core of secular clergy, monks and nuns. They had a population that had a clerical status. These were the manaig – the married people who were the tenantry. They all made up the familia of the saint. These settlements continued to grow and were exhibiting urban characteristics during the course of the 9th and 10th centuries. They also constituted the main centres of wealth in early Ireland. It was wealth and resources that could not be ignored by Irish kings. Irish churches were the main points of nucleation. By the time the Vikings appeared they were well on the way to becoming the towns and villages of early Ireland. With their great circular banks (probably with a palisade on top) and ditches they would have been imposing in the landscape. There would have been housing in the out31

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Charles Doherty skirts and in the surrounding areas among the fields. Herds of cattle and other animals would have been guarded by boys and young men with their dogs on the open pastures. Beyond the church territories the secular population served their lords and kings. Independent farmers lived in the rath or lios – ditch and bank circular enclosures that protected the dwellings and working areas. The greatest of lords might have up to three such enclosures surrounding their dwellings as a sign of prestige. Lord and man were linked through a nexus of relationships to a great extent based upon the grant of a fief of cattle. The wealthiest farmers provided military service to their lords when they went on official business, when their lord went on a cattle-raid against his enemies, or when he went to war. Some people lived in crannógs, artificial islands in lakes, that may have been more secure. However in 941 there was a severe frost that allowed the Vikings to cross the ice and plunder Inis Mochta (Inishmot, barony of Slane) in Co. Meath. Kings too lived in crannógs. Indeed excavation of crannóg sites has provided much information about the lives of the people of the time. The country would have been heavily forested. There were open areas of country that had been continuously occupied for centuries. Here the rath and lios dotted the countryside. Neighbours and kinsmen frequently ploughed in common, each contributing to the makeup of the plough and the ox-team. Although cattle dominated the economy grain was important (F. Kelly 1988, F. Kelly 1997). This is clearly to be seen in the number of horizontal water-mills that have been discovered – the most recent discovery being the spectacular series of man-made tanks on the shore near the church of Nendrum in Strangford Lough that stored seawater on the incoming tide for controlled release to power horizontal mills. Another major discovery was the remains of a wooden bridge spanning the Shannon at Clonmacnoise. A dendrochronological dating for one

part of the structure was AD 804. The closest European parallels for the bridge are to be found in Denmark dating from the 8th to 10th centuries. ‘These were usually constructed as simple raised walkways, supported by vertical and horizontal framing, suspended not more than 2-3 m above the surface’ (Moore 1996, 26). The bridge was at least 160 m long. The walkway was 4-5 m in width allowing the passage of vehicles, men and animals. From the east the bridge could be approached dry-shod but from the west a road (3-5 m in width) that can be traced over a distance of approximately 2 km was built through the bog. The construction of this bridge comes at a period of major expansion at Clonmacnoise. Settlement was being built down towards the river and ground was artificially raised to allow for the construction of houses and workshops (O’Sullivan & Boland 2000). The 8th century also saw a great increase in the carving of cross slabs on the site. Was the building of the bridge the activity of the kings of Connacht to the west of the river or the Uí Néill kings to the east? Was it for military purposes or did the clergy of Clonmacnoise build it themselves as part of an increase in pilgrimage to the site? It is activity of this kind that suggests that population was increasing on the site and allows us to begin to talk about monastic towns. Such centres produced a surplus. The artwork and building activity are evidence of that. Kings frequently sought to control such places in order to gain access to their wealth. They could billet their troops on the population of the church and pasture their animals on monastic estates. The major churches had become their capitals where they would reside for periods of time. The activity of the Uí Néill high-king Donnchad Midi is illustrative of these points. Donnchad’s brother Diarmait Dub died leading the forces of the monastic town of Durrow unsuccessfully against his brother Murchad’s son Bressal who lead the forces of Clonmacnoise in 764. Two hundred men were killed. In 775 Donn-

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The Viking Impact upon Ireland chad brought the monastery of Clonard under his control (it had earlier been within Leinster sphere of influence). In 776 he campaigned in Munster with the help of the forces of Durrow. His son Ruaidrí (died 838) was abbot of Clonmacnoise, Clonard and other churches. It is clear that Clonmacnoise was also under his power through his son. Donnchad might well be a patron of the bridge but Connacht involvement is also possible. Indeed it was Donnchad who consolidated Uí Néill power throughout the midlands. This activity is not that of petty tribal kingships. When we find monasteries at war with one another it is seldom squabbles over power and prestige. It is royal politics. In Leinster 400 men were killed in battle at Ferns in 817. Two segments of the Uí Chennselaigh dynasty had struggled for domination of south Leinster since the middle of the 8th century. The victorious party had Taghmon (south Co. Wexford) as their base and those they defeated had control of Ferns. Their victory was short lived for this area was one of the first to be attacked by the Vikings. These dynastic wars were ruthless. Throughout the 8th century petty tribal communities were subsumed within the growing territories of powerful kings. This may very well have been part of a cycle that had been going on for centuries. By the 8th century we are in a position to view the events in some detail. From this period on petty kings were to gradually lose their independent political status. While retaining the honorific title rí, ‘king’ within their own districts they were increasingly becoming the officers of greater lords. Despite the background clash of battle this century saw a flourishing of art in all its forms often in churches most heavily involved in political activity. Not surprisingly since much patronage was provided by kings. For the warriors of the age death in battle was honourable and poets ensured their names were known to future generations. But death comes from other quarters too. In 764 it snowed for nearly three months. This year also saw

great drought and dysentery. On the 1st of August and 29th of September 772 thunderstorms caused panic at the great assembly at Óenach Tailten (Co. Meath). For the next twelve years famine and disease happened frequently. In 773 occurred a bloody flux. There was also drought and famine. The bloody flux occurred again in the following year. In 776 there was an outbreak of rabies. The next summer was one of wind and rain. Bloody flux occurred again together with other epidemics. There was also a murrain of cattle which continued into 779 when there was also an outbreak of smallpox. If portents of what was to come were needed these were surely sufficient. Against this background, in the last decades of the century more spiritual voices were to be heard among the Irish clergy. Those who called themselves the Céle Dé, ‘the vassals of God’ began to preach a pure form of the monastic ideal and separated themselves from the ‘folk of the old churches’. New foundations were established, the most famous at Tallaght and Finglas in Co. Dublin ‘the two eyes of Ireland’. They lived by strict rules of fast and abstinence and embraced chastity. New foundations multiplied and they even established churches within the old monastic towns. Until the 840s this was an invigorating force within the Church in Ireland. Even those who had turned from the old ways must surely have wondered what the Lord expected of them when the first shock of the Viking attacks was felt. It was profound. Indeed we may glimpse their reaction in the pages of two of the most famous books of the period – the Book of Armagh and the Book of Kells. In 802 the monastery of Iona was burned by the heathens as they are described in the Annals of Ulster. In 806 sixty-eight of the community were killed. In the following year land was given to the refugees by Armagh to build a nova civitas, ‘a new city’, at Kells in Co. Meath. The cross of Patrick and Columba in Kells records the alliance between the two churches. In Armagh itself the Book of 33

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Charles Doherty Armagh was being written. The Gospel of Matthew was completed on St Matthew’s day, September 21, 807 as noted by the principal scribe Ferdomnach on folio 52 verso. One of the most striking pen and ink drawings in the book is that at the end of the text of the Apocalypse, folio 171 recto. It consists of a rectangular interlace border representing the heavenly Jerusalem, the city that ‘lieth foursquare’ (Rev. 21: 10-16). It lies beneath the words: . . . and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ’Surely I am coming soon’. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with all men.

In the text of the Gospel of Mark 13: 19-20 (folio 65 verso) describing the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, there is the paragraph which reads: For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

Opposite this text in the margin the scribe, Ferdomnach, wrote in Greek letters the name Cellach, the abbot of Iona who had just fled to Kells with the remainder of his community. As Hilary Richardson has pointed out (personal communication) no other Insular manuscript has such a drawing. Also the cross of Patrick and Colm Cille at Kells is unique in having a representation of the apocalyptic vision (Richardson & Scarry 1990, 40; Harbison 1993 i, 108-11). In 814 Cellach, having completed the construction of the templum, as the new church of Kells is described by the annalist, retired – to die in the following year. The building of Kells was nothing less than the recreation of the Temple of the Lord

upon the earth. There can hardly have been a more fitting time for the creation of a book such as the Book of Kells. It was surely created to adorn the altar of the new church, the templum, on its consecration in 814. Irish scholars of the 9th century constantly use the imagery of the New Jerusalem. Irish monastic settlements with their sacred core within which rested the holy ones beside the church were seen as cities of God upon the earth. Irish canon law had described such places as being surrounded by different areas of sanctuary, becoming more holy as one moved towards the centre. These were described as sanctus, sanctior and sanctissimus. Fines were laid down for entry into areas into which one was not entitled to go. The clergy could have access to the sacred core. It was clear also that the general population gathered on the periphery of these sites. It was within these outer areas that we get a hint of market activity from the 8th century onwards. These were centres of population and soon became primary targets for the Vikings. It was not the violence of the Vikings that shocked the Irish – they were well used to that. It was the rending of the Temple. Soon when a Viking raid is recorded the phrase ‘as far as the door of the church’ is used which suggests that this was a step too far. When Irish kings raided church settlements it would seem that some respect was normally given to the sacred core of the town. It was not long before people crowding into churches for protection unwittingly placed themselves in a position for easy collection for the slave trade. The Viking raids at the end of the 8th and beginning of the 9th century were peripheral and seasonal – it was not until later that they penetrated the river systems. By 837 they came in sufficient numbers to over-winter. Despite years of heavy snow the climate was not as harsh as the cold north from which they had come. They must have noted early on that cattle were not brought indoors in the winter. As they acquired Irish wives and slaves they may have found that some of the seasonal rit-

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The Viking Impact upon Ireland uals were not unlike their own. Through wives and slaves they would have adopted Irish techniques in building, farming and animal husbandry and knowledge of the Irish language. It was a two-way process for in the course of time the Irish borrowed from Norse technology and eventually Norse art. Many words to do with ships and shipping, and fishing were borrowed from them. From an early stage too some may have been attracted to Christianity. The word geinte, ‘heathen’, used by the annalists gradually goes out of use just after the middle of the 9th century only to recur at the beginning of the 10th before finally being dropped by the mid 10th century. Did the Vikings transform Irish society? Hardly. But they were a major catalyst in that transformation. The Norse impact upon Ireland was not consistent throughout what we call the Viking period. Not only were the Norse evolving but so too were the Irish. Despite the intense raids of the 9th century no major Irish monastic town disappeared. Powerful Irish kings became even more powerful through participation in the slave trade directly with the Norse or by gaining Norse silver through their profits in that trade. There can be little doubt that warfare became more intense. Some of the Irish such as the Luigni and Gailenga operated like the Norse until their pirate base was destroyed by the High-king Máel Sechnaill on Lough Ramor (Co. Cavan) in 847. A few years later, in 850, the king of North Brega (a kingship centred on the Boyne at Knowth), Cináed mac Conaing, allied with the Norse and plundered the royal crannóg of his Uí Néill rivals at Lagore, and burned the wooden church of Trevet with 260 people in it. In the following year the High-king Máel Sechnaill executed him by drowning – the same ignominious death that had been meted to the Viking, Turgéis, by the same High-king in 845. The strategies developed to counter the Norse

together with the new wealth available to the Irish kings through slavery and trade allowed for the evolution of a more militaristic society. The absorption of petty communities continued apace and the major kingships became ever more powerful. The rath- and lios-owning independent farmers were slowly merging into a rent-paying peasantry. They were more frequently to be found living in unenclosed farming nucleations providing food for their military lords (Doherty 1998, 312-30; Doherty 2000, 50-80). With the foundation of international trading towns at Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick during the course of the 10th century a new period of wealth creation began. As the Irish came to the realization that control and steady taxation of these towns were more profitable than occasional raids then they became ports of trade. By this stage the Vikings were well on the way to being integrated into Irish political and social life. An early indication of this may be seen in the raid on Armagh on Saturday, November 10, 921 when Godfrid, grandson of Ivar, spared the churches and hospitals. Amlaíbh Cuarán, king of Dublin, died a penitent in Iona in 981. There is strong evidence that he attempted to rule like an Irish king. The Columban monastery to which he retired had been one of the first to be devastated by his ancestors. It is very likely too, that the Columban churches had felt a special responsibility for the Christianisation of the Vikings and played an important role in their conversion (Bradley 1988, 52; Doherty 1998, 295-301). The Norse communities in Ireland from the late 10th century onwards settled into the role of international traders, mercenaries and boat builders. One of the largest boats built by the Norse was built in Ireland and now graces the ship museum in Roskilde. This is a most eloquent testimony to our Norse-Irish ancestors.

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Ireland’s Viking Towns Patrick F. Wallace Comparison of recent excavation results from Irish Viking Age towns in terms of location, layout, defences and buildings show that they have many physical traits in common, that there is such a thing as the Hiberno-Norse town and that the results of the Dublin excavations should no longer be studied in isolation. This examination is restricted to comparison of location, layout and defences and building types, i.e. the main built features as they survive in the archaeological record. Taking a glance at the relative quantities of archaeological information available for Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Limerick and Cork we will look at the evidence for location before examining the layout of streets and plots, and the defences and houses of Dublin and the other towns. Although recent archaeological excavations have yielded evidence for urban layout and building types in the later 9th century as well as continuity of settlement both in relation to location and actual nature from the late 9th into the 10th centuries, Dublin’s early history is conventionally divided into a 841-902 first phase and a post 917 second phase, the gap representing the exile (mainly to England) of the Dublin Vikings. The idea that the second phase is that which developed into the later 10th century town (referred to as dún in Irish sources) has now to be re-examined. So have views on the nature of the earlier longphort settlement and exactly when, how and for what reasons it became a town. While there is no doubt that the Scandinavians introduced the idea of the town to Ireland, the place of immediate origin of the idea remains to be agreed. For some time I have been arguing the idea came from England in the 9th or early 10th centuries or both although the exist-

ence of towns in Scandinavia itself particularly at places like Ribe, Hedeby and Birka and of trading centres like Kaupang has also to be admitted. Problems with the physical Scandinavian contribution centre on the apparently non-urban origins of the mainly Norse rather than Danish Vikings who came to Ireland and the fact that England which is much closer geographically to Ireland and to which the Irish Norse were constantly to-ing and fro-ing and on which they were to establish a ruling dynasty centred on Dublin and York in the later 9th and the 10th centuries itself underwent an urban revival if not a revolution which saw the establishment of several towns and defended byrig both in the 9th and 10th centuries under Alfred the Great and his children respectively. Location It can hardly be coincidental that our Viking towns seem to be located on relatively high ground overlooking the confluences of tidal river estuaries and their tributaries. Indeed not only is this a feature of Irish Viking Age towns, it is typical of Viking towns in general. The town of Dublin was established on the south of the then fast-flowing river Liffey on high ground above its confluence with the Poddle, the east bank of which probably already had a Gaelic settlement called Dubhlinn. Waterford appears to have been established in the 10th century in a triangular promontory bounded on the north by the River Suir and the south-east by marshy ground on either side of the St. John’s River. This promontory would have been easily defended by the construction of an earthwork across the western side, the only landward ap37

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Patrick F. Wallace

Excavations at Wood Quay.

proach. ‘Waterford’ is one of the few Scandinavian place-names in Ireland, being derived from the Old Norse word for ‘ram fjord or windy fjord’. The modern Irish name Port Lairge is thought to commemorate Láraig, an early Viking leader. Wexford was also built at the confluence of an estuary and a tributary – the Slaney and its tributary, the Bishops Water River. Limerick appears to have been built, north of the confluence of the Shannon and its tributary the Abbey River. The Viking settlement in Cork is thought to have been located on the south island in the River Lee. Access to boats and by sea seems to have been paramount both for the 9th century longphorts and the towns of the early 10th century. Significance also seems to have been attached to the location of towns at the estuaries of great rivers which gave access often to rich interiors or hinterlands.

The siting of towns at points where tributaries feed into main rivers, and the apparent preference for high ground, appears to be no more than taking maximum advantage of natural defensive features and minimising the great effort that would have been necessary to defend such settlements. Such choices of location are different from those found at sites of great monasteries, which were often selected for their territorial position in or between kingdoms or for their rich agricultural potential. The choice of Irish Viking town sites differs from contemporary English choice of settlement location, in which apparent influences such as rivers mouths, estuary positions, the proximity of tributaries, and the ease of defence do not figure so prominently. Most existing English towns stood on or near Roman sites. Locating towns at estuarine river mouths near tributaries and capitalising

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Ireland’s Viking Towns on natural defences may have been the most original physical contribution of the Vikings to Irish urbanism. In some cases the choices made on these grounds may have made difficult the subsequent development of street and town layout on the relevant sites. Layout Hiberno-Norse towns were divided by streets and laneways from which post-and-wattle boundary fences sometimes radiated to further subdivide them into plots or yards. Street lines and expansions of the towns tended to follow natural contours, in the case of Dublin and Waterford where, apparently, two main streets (Peter and High) ran along the crest of the hill and ‘were the major thoroughfares’. A length of about 16m of the original surface of Peter Street was uncovered in the excavations; its maximum excavated width was 3.6 m and it had a ‘metalled surface… of closely set small stones and gravel’. This is the only Hiberno-Norse Street excavated to date and it led to a gateway in the town wall. Gravel and stone pathways have been found in Dublin where to date no street has been uncovered. It has been assumed that many early streets lie under their present much-widened successors. Analysis of the plot boundaries and the pathways, which gave access to them, indicates the presence of a street on the line of Fishamble Street, Dublin, in the Viking and Hiberno-Norse periods. The dividing boundary fences in Dublin were of post-and-wattle and generally succeeded one another on the same line each time they were replaced. Even where boundary fences did not survive or were possibly never used, the boundaries were discernible from differences in stratigraphy at the various levels. Fences were often heightened by posts driven into the waste which was constantly piling up in the yards. In many cases walls of houses were built along the boundary lines and acted as fences. The Fishamble Street evidence indicates that access was through the plots where of-

ten a series of pathways zig-zagged their way around the buildings, control of access presumably being in the hands of the plot owner. Such control must have applied particularly in plots where the building nearest the street spanned the entire width and persons wishing to get to the back would have had to pass through the house at the front. The only major shift in the Fishamble Street plot divisions seems related to the erection of a large defensive embankment. The general layout of the plots remained unchanged over two centuries and even left its imprint in the post-medieval layout. Although the lines of the plot boundaries often remained constant, the positions of houses, outhouses, pens, pathways and pits often changed with each building phase. Successive buildings were often built in different places to different sizes though the boundaries tended to remain the same. Plot areas varied greatly in size. While in Fishamble Street at least lengths probably depended on the position of the two great-assumed determinants, the street and the waterfront, it is impossible to be absolutely certain about this because neither fronts nor backs of plots were found. There is no doubt about the variety of the plot widths. The trapezoidal rather than the rectangular shape of many of the Fishamble Street plots makes their respective areas difficult to measure. It is assumed that the trapezoidal shape of the plots derives from the sinuous line of the original Fishamble Street relative to the location of the waterfront defences. The most northerly or riverward plots had their wide ends towards the street and the narrow end towards the waterfront, in contrast to the more southerly or uphill plots in which the positions of the respective widths were reversed. Original widths of the front and back ends of many plots were estimated by projecting the lines of the plot ends to the line of the presumed street on the one hand and that of the defences on the other. Some plots were wide, while others were narrow and even had a house type all of their own. Widths seem to be a more reliable indicator of area than lengths al39

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Patrick F. Wallace though these also probably varied considerably in accordance with plot location. Not all of the plots can have been as long as the one, which had a length in excess of 34 m. While it is tempting to conclude that plot size was an indicator of wealth, the Fishamble Street evidence warns against such a conclusion. The relatively large houses which are often found in the larger plots appear to have resulted more from the available plot area and its shape than from the wealth of the owner. Neither the quantity nor the quality of the artefacts recovered from the larger plots or the larger houses implies extra wealth on the part of the owners. Buildings were situated end-on rather than broadside to the streets. In Fishamble Street, a pathway usually led (apparently from the street) to the front end of the main building. Pathways are defined as radiating back into the plots from the street’s edge. It appears from relative lengths of the pathways that the Dublin buildings were set back several metres from the streets in both the 10th and 11th centuries. Each of the Fishamble Street plots had an individual pathway linking the plot and the ‘front’ end of the main building with the presumed main street. The pathways were about 1.5 m wide and mostly consisted of round or halfround logs laid on longitudinal runners. More rarely they were of gravel and paving stones. Interestingly, in Dublin at least, quality carpentry construction was occasionally used in pathway surfaces and walls after its introduction to the town about the middle of the 11th century. While Dublin’s public lanes and pathways were relatively narrow, it is likely that its streets were relatively wide if the Hiberno-Norse towns were wide enough to accommodate busy pedestrian and possibly packhorse traffic as well as the odd street market or small fair. There is not enough evidence to say whether vehicular traffic, flocks of sheep or herds of cattle were driven through parts of the town. The Fishamble Street layout is not typical of Viking and Hiberno-Norse Dublin. There was a growth in occupation in the High Street area

Relative positions of buildings over 13 successive building levels along Fishamble Street.

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Ireland’s Viking Towns

Reconstruction of 13 successive building levels along Fishamble Street.

during the 11th century and boundaries and laneway positions were in place before the more intensive use of the area got under way after a westward expansion. There were also different approaches to layout in evidence at the various sites. Whereas High Street appears to have been an area of large yards with small buildings (in the leatherworking area), there were larger buildings ‘with greater pretension’ in Christchurch Place, which were set slightly back from the streets or lanes and often had an individual pathway to the entrance, such as was found later at Fishamble Street. The layout in Winetavern Street to High Street ‘with small buildings on either side of a pathway leading down the hillside’ was in a relatively congested layout. The Fishamble Street buildings and yards give the impression of a consistently better off and more established environment. The higher incidence of coin discovery in that area could indicate that it was a merchants’ quarter. From the archaeological evidence, it is possible to suggest the existence of an urban authority for property layout, continuity and control. There is little doubt that much, if not all, of Hiberno-Norse Dublin was divided into plots or yards. This was also the case at Waterford, where plots were identifiable even though boundary fences were not always evident. Waterford also has evidence for continuity of plot orientation over the centuries. The literary references support the acceptance even by native annalists of Dublin’s plots and, by inference, of an organised urban authority. Even as early as 944 there is reference to the destruction of Dublin with its ‘houses, divisions (=airbeadha), ships and other structures’. The earliest dated use of garrdha in the annals is under the year 989, when the High King Mael Sechnaill imposed a tax of an ounce of gold on every garrdha or plot in Dublin. This practice continued in the 11th century. The idea of levying a single sess on individual plots suggests that they were owned by the equivalent of what developed into the later medieval burgess. When 10th- and 11th-century writers came 41

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Patrick F. Wallace to ascribe imaginary glories to the long deserted Tara they ‘may well have had Dublin in mind’ especially when they assigned special quarters to craftsmen like cobblers and comb-makers. To date, our excavations suggest that Dublin’s comb-makers were concentrated in High Street, the metalworkers in Christchurch Place, the cobblers in High Street, the amber workers and possibly the woodcarvers and merchants in Fishamble Street with some other craftsmen, possibly including blacksmiths and boat-builders, outside the defences. The annals indicate that as early as 1015 Dublin was no longer contained within its banks because in that year houses both within and ‘outside the dún’ were burned. It may have been to protect the latter that the town defences were extended in the course of the 11th century. In Waterford there is also evidence for contiguous houses in parallel alignment as at Fishamble Street, Dublin. There were two main thoroughfares, evidence for the alignment of 11th- and 12thcentury houses fronting onto Peter Street. There was a similar layout to the west of Cooke Lane where the houses ‘did not front onto the street’. At least fourteen plots were aligned roughly on Peter Street from the 11th century onwards for a length of over 90 m. In only six cases could the ground plans be clearly distinguished. The Bride Street excavation in Wexford demonstrates continuity of plot boundaries from the 11th to the 13th – 14th centuries. These levels show the adjoining parts of two plots which were separated by a succession of boundary fences and other divisions on more or less the same line over several centuries. The plots in question were aligned on the present Main Street. There was a slight shift at one level, and at another level there was a pathway between the plots. The regularity of layout is taken to be an argument for the existence of a PreNorman urban authority which appears to be borne out also by the Dublin and Waterford evidence. What is even more intriguing is that the three lowest levels, while not aligned with the

main street, betray a continuity of plot boundary lines which is suggestive of their being part of an earlier layout. Is it possible that the layout of 10thand early 11th-century Wexford was redrawn in the middle to late 11th century in this part of the town with the expansion from the earlier core area near the Slaney/Bishops Water river confluence? While there is no evidence yet for the division of Limerick into plots in the Hiberno-Norse period, it is likely that such was the case. There are historical references as early as the 960s to show that Limerick had streets as we know from the reference to the taking of the ‘fort’ by the Dál gCais who ‘slaughtered them (the Vikings) on the streets and in the houses’.

Defences Evidence for town defences has been found at Dublin, Waterford and Limerick. The Dublin evidence for town defences is the earliest and most complete found to date. It is clear that Dublin was enclosed by an earthen bank in the 10th century and that a larger second bank was built outside this around the 11th-century town. It also appears that according as the latter bank was being enlarged, especially by the addition of layers of estuarine mud in the 11th century, a stone revetment was placed in front of it. It seems that in places this wall was more than a facade and was a free standing town wall. Both Dublin and Waterford were encircled by such walls in the Hiberno-Norse period. Limerick’s bank may have been stone-faced; Wexford appears to have been defended by a stone wall at the time of the Norman Invasion. The most extensive series of defences were excavated at Fishamble Street, Dublin among a succession of nine waterfronts along the south bank of the River Liffey. These waterfronts included two possible flood banks and two definitely defensive embankments which date from the Viking period and a stone wall of about 1100. The earliest embankments were low and non-defensive and

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Ireland’s Viking Towns were located above high-water line. They were not more than 1m high and do not appear to have been palisade. It is not clear how much of the settlement they encircled. Their primary function was to keep dry the properties on the sloping ground above the foreshore where there is some evidence for the accumulation of possible yard detritus before the construction of the embankments. Some time later in the 10th century an extensive embankment was erected along the high-water line. This appears to have been built in a number of sections although probably conceived as a unit and probably erected by royal authority. It was built on top of dumped organic refuse and was established by a pre-existing fence. The bank was bonded in mud and its location on a naturally rising slope made its external aspect higher than its internal. It was protected from the erosive action of the tidal river by a breakwater which was secured in a channel cut into the rocky foreshore. A cobbled stone pathway existed inside and parallel to the bank along the western stretch and towards Fishamble Street. A ditch, 1.6m deep and 2m wide, was cut into the natural limestone immediately outside part of the bank. A series of planks were set edgeto-edge on the outer slope of this part of the bank, each with a large mortise through which they were probably originally pegged to the bank. These planks appear to have been intended to provide a smooth beaching/docking slipway for ships or, less likely, they may have been the surviving lowest part of a palisade erected on the forward slope of the bank. This first defensive Viking embankment seems to have encircled the whole town because it appears also to be represented in Ross Road on the south side. Little time elapsed between the abandonment of the first bank and its replacement by its successor, which in places incorporated the earlier structure. A second larger embankment was built in at least four different stages and erected at the riverward side of its predecessor, probably around the year 1000. Gravel, stones and earth were used in

its construction, the dumped layers being reinforced by discarded post-and-wattle screens and by layers of brushwood. At one stage in its history this bank was crowned by a post-and-wattle palisade; later, when the bank was heightened, a more robust stave wall, anchored from behind, was placed on top. In its final phase, this bank was covered over with estuarine mud brought from the bed of the river; this dried out and formed a firm surface. This second defensive embankment also encircled the whole town. It too appears at Ross Road as well as on two sides of Dublin Castle, in the Powder Tower, where the eastern ramparts of the Viking town were unearthed with a short southern stretch west of the Birmingham Tower. Part of its eastern stretch may also have turned up in Parliament Street, where the defences overlooked the west bank of the Poddle. It seems that an even higher bank was erected before the construction of the stone wall. It is likely that for a considerable part of the Hiberno-Norse period Dublin was encircled by the earthen embankments just described. Towards the end of the 11th century a stone wall about 1.5 m wide and possibly as much as 3.5 m in original height was built outside these embankments. The average surviving height of the wall was about 2 m along Wood Quay, across which over 100 m of wall was uncovered. The wall was composed of a rubble fill within mortared stone facings. A number of splits in the coursing of the inner face of the wall indicated that the outer face might have been built first and the wall completed on the inside. It seems that the wall was not meant to be completely free-standing and that its lowest part may have been a revetment or quay wall which fronted a bank of organic and mud layers dumped behind it. The recent discovery of a long stretch of this wall at Ross Road in the southern part of the Hiberno-Norse town strongly suggests that this wall also encircled the whole town. It is possible that the reason the DĂşn of Dublin was marvelled at as one of the wonders of Ireland in a poem about 1120 43

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Patrick F. Wallace in the Book of Leinster was because this stone wall was a relatively new feature at that time. The development of Waterford’s defences seems to parallel the Dublin experience. However, it was only after the expansion of the town that embankments were added and this was well into the 11th century. About 35 m of the 11th-century earthen bank have been exposed in four separate excavations. This bank was accompanied by a ditch, which varied in depth between 2 and 2.5 m and was 2.5 m wide at the base. The bank is described as ‘substantial’ and was made of turfs interleaved with clay and was up to 4 m in width, the original height probably being in excess of 3 m (surviving to a height of 1.65 m). The bank was built in sections by gangs of workmen under the control of some municipal authority. Interestingly, oak beams ‘may have formed some sort of superstructure on the bank’ and these have been dated to 1070-90. Planks on the front face of the first defensive bank at Fishamble Street, Dublin present a possible parallel. In the second quarter of the 12th century the bank was demolished and the ditch backfilled to accommodate a substantial stone wall of which 22 m survived to a maximum height of 1.65 m or 8 courses of construction. The wall was built as a revetment against the eastern half of the bank and, according to the excavator, was never entirely freestanding. Like the Hiberno-Norse wall around Dublin, it had a projecting footing and was slightly battered. It had a rubble core and was built in different sections with vertical joints appearing between these sections; all of this finds parallels in the Dublin wall. There was a cobble pathway outside the wall. Uniquely to date, the Waterford excavations also produced evidence for a pre-Norman gateway. This was at Peter Street, where the outer face of a 1.72 m wide gateway in the town wall exposed. It consisted of ‘two ashlars built jambs… above projecting plinths’ which survived to a height of 3 and 4 courses.

What was described as a 10.1 m stretch of a ‘clay bank riveted by a limestone wall’ turned up at the King John’s Castle site, Limerick. It had a maximum surviving height of 1.7 m and had a 1m wide pathway on a berm at its base, beyond which was 2.8 m deep ditch. It is thought that these features may represent the south side of a ‘massive stone-riveted earthen rampart which, from the associated finds, may date to the 12th century.’ That this ‘earlier structure was utilised in the Norman defences for a limited duration’ was confirmed by the discovery of its being bonded to the later, mortared east curtain wall of the castle. There is no archaeological confirmation to date for the Viking Age defensive embankment proposed for Wexford. The Bride Street excavations revealed no trace of a bank. The absence of banks from the relatively closely located Bride Street and Oyster Lane excavations could mean that Wexford was not defended by a bank along its 11th-century waterfront. The surviving walls of Wexford seem to date much later. Giraldus Cambrensis uses the term murum for Wexford’s defences, a term he also uses for the town walls of Dublin, Waterford and Limerick which implies that the towns in question were each defended by stone walls before the coming of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. Hiberno-Norse town buildings Seven apparently different building types have been recognised to date. These include the almost ubiquitous Dublin Type 1 which has turned up everywhere except Limerick and which may have been on the decline from the 12th century. Another building with an internal roof-support system found at more than one location was the Type 2. Type 3 occurs only at one location, Dublin. Type 4, the sunken-featured structure, occurs in three of the towns, apparently in two different and possibly unrelated versions. Type 5, the huts, occur only at two towns but were probably widespread and common. Two additional types (6 and 7) were

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Ireland’s Viking Towns found in Waterford, both with load-bearing walls, one of ‘sill beam’ construction (type 6) and the other of stone and wood (type 7). It is possible that in plan or form this pair were the same type. Type 1 comprises over 75% of all buildings found in Dublin to date; it is the only type found on all sites and at levels and may truly be described as the Dublin building type par excellence. In its classic expression, the Type 1 building had low post-andwattle walls and a roof supported by two pairs of large posts or groups of posts situated well in from the side and end-walls and on the other side of a centrally located stone-kerbed hearth which was positioned on a line between the two end walls both of which usually had a doorway. The longitudinal floor strip which ran between the end wall doorways was flanked on either side by built-up bedding/bench areas which backed onto the side walls. These areas were fronted by low post-andwattle or stave-built revetments which ran longitudinally between the roof supports. While in some of the wider buildings of this type it was probably possible to walk into such side areas, their more usual narrow character, coupled with the apparent lowness of the sidewalks, and the raised character of the bedding/benches meant that they were only beds/seats and not meant to be walked on. The average floor area of these buildings was about 40 m2. Smaller versions of the type are comparatively rare, the most popular size (30-40 m2) occurring at eleven different building levels in Fishamble Street, the medium to large size (40-50 m2) also occurring at many different levels. Fishamble Street also yielded three Type 1 buildings about 60 m2 in area; to this group a very large building (11 ¤ 6 m) from the excavations at Castle Street may be added. Type 2 buildings were of sub-rectangular plan with markedly rounded corners. They were smaller than those of Type 1, were not divided into aisles and seldom appear to have had formal fireplaces. Their usually solitary doorway was in a side wall, generally facing south. Their floors were of-

ten completely covered in woven wattle mats and their walls more often consisted of double lines of post-and-wattle than did those associated with Type 1. Less than 6 per cent of the Dublin buildings were of Type 2 and their floor areas averaged something over 15 m2. These buildings always appear to be associated with Type 1 and do not appear to have occurred on their own. The most difficult of the Dublin building groups is Type 3, which appears to be a slimmed down and shortened version of Type 1 specially invented for a narrow and difficult series of plots on a bend off the west side of Fishamble Street. The relative homogeneity of the dimensions of the seven buildings of this type and their separateness from Type 2 (to which in size they most closely approximate) argues for their categorisation as a separate type. The presence of fireplaces and doors in the end walls also separates them from Type 2. Significant also is the arrangement of their roof-supports along the sidewalls rather than internally as in Types 1 and 2. Slightly over 6 per cent of all Dublin buildings were of this type and their average floor area was about 15 m2. Type 4 describes the sunken-floored buildings or SFSs. Until the Essex Street West excavations, the Dublin evidence for these was for flimsy constructions which were late and comparatively rare. This contrasted with the evidence at Waterford and Limerick. The Essex Street buildings were of sub rectangular plan with woven wattle walls; they were cut into the rocky foreshore of the Liffey above the shore. There was some evidence for gravel metalling of yard surfaces of these, the earliest of Dublin’s Viking Age buildings and for their possible alignment to an early road which curved south and east from the shoreline. They were deliberately floored and had rather formal stepped down entrances. The latter feature also appeared in the much later SFSs in Limerick and Waterford. The discovery of Dublin Type 1 buildings at Waterford and Wexford and their popularity from the earliest levels in all three towns make a compelling 45

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Patrick F. Wallace case for them to be regarded as the Hiberno-Norse building Type 1. Admittedly, it has not yet been found in the small sample of buildings from Limerick, while Cork has yet to surrender archaeological evidence from its Viking Age. However, the relative similarities of form, layout and scale between the Type 1 building at Dublin, Waterford and Wexford mean that this was the building type par excellence in Irish towns of the 11th century at least. Its discovery almost at the lowest or earliest and certainly before 900 in Dublin, where the evidence to date is earlier than it is for the other towns, shows that the type was evolved in a tradition that was old and established at the time of the refoundation of Dublin in the second decade of the 10th century. Its relative longevity is best attested at Wexford, where it continued after the Norman invasion and into the 13th century, if not later. Dublin Type 2 buildings have turned up only in the more large-scale excavations at Dublin and Waterford. However, because they have been found in both towns and in the same ancillary context to Type 1 and, apparently, fulfilling the same function, they are taken to be Hiberno-Norse Type 2, which may yet turn up at the other towns. Indeed, the coincidence of the location of the Wexford excavations at the wide or probable street end of the relevant plots probably rules out the possibility of Type 2 being found in that part of the site; they may well be present beyond the area available for excavation. The type certainly can no longer be regarded simply as a Dublin type. The Dublin Type 3 has always been the most difficult to accept as a type in its own right. Its occurrence at only one principal location in Dublin, where a bend in the street may have been responsible for a couple of narrow plot ends in which a distinctive building shape had to be adapted and its rough similarity to the Type 1 argue against its acceptance as a type. However, it was found over several levels and in adjoining Fishamble Street plots. Clearly it was a long-lived phenomenon. Its longevity and the other distinguishing traits already

noted in our summary of the house types argue for its acceptance as a separate building type. Indeed, it is distinguished not only on the basis of form or plan but also on its roof-support system. In that it was a building type in at least one of the HibernoNorse towns, although even then apparently localised, it has to be accepted as Hiberno-Norse building Type 3 with the obvious qualification that it occurs only in Dublin, just as Types 6 and 7 occur only in Waterford. The arrangement of Type 3 roof-supports, and its relative area and plan set it apart from Type 1, to which in terms of function it was probably most closely related. Sunken-floored buildings or Dublin Type 4 are the second most widely distributed Hiberno-Norse type known to date, being found at Waterford, Limerick and Dublin, but not as yet at Wexford. The relative nearness of the Bride Street site to the waterfront at Wexford probably ruled out the use of buildings of this sort in an area which was possibly not embanked and which was anyway liable to flooding. The type was the earliest found in Essex Street in the 9th century, a successor form being in existence from the 11th century, when similar versions existed at Waterford (a very important group) and Limerick; these featured stone-lined entrance walls widening towards the doorway, the use of strong wall-posts and sill-beams in the wall foundations, and an absence of fireplaces. So sturdy were some of the Waterford foundations that it has been suggested that this building type was originally provided with an upper floor ‘which may have been accessible from the street’. There is no suggestion that the earliest Dublin buildings of this type were so provided. Limerick’s row of three sunken-featured structures are thought to have been for storage. In Dublin with sunken-featured tradition in which the main floor was sunken and the earthen walls banked up around the sides under a probably relatively low roof and a later, more urban, ‘cellared building’ tradition in which the principal floor was located over a sunken (storage) cellar with wooden walls supporting the above-

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Ireland’s Viking Towns

Excavation of Dublin house.

ground storey. The latter with its central roof/floor found at Waterford and Drogheda. It is possible that both traditions are represented in the Irish urban record, that the Dublin Type 4 relates to the former and the substantially built Waterford and Limerick buildings to the latter. Cellared buildings were often built with considerable amounts of timber in the high quality carpentry style also evident in the ‘sill beam’ buildings in Waterford and in the pathways of Dublin. We know that like the Type 1, the cellared version of Type 4 outlived the Hiberno-Norse period. Whatever of work continuity from one type to the other or indeed of possible overlap, there is no doubt that the sunken structure was a building type in the Hiberno-Norse towns. It seems best to regard both versions as belonging to a single over-

all Hiberno-Norse building Type 4 until the geographical and chronological separateness of the two versions is established and further discoveries are made about when the buildings of the ‘cellared’ group may be said to have commenced. Only seven small sub-rectangular huts and pens of the type known as Dublin Type 5 are known to date. Six of these turned up in Fishamble Street, where they tend to occur to the west or riverward side of the main buildings. That they are not any longer to be regarded simply as a localised phenomenon in Dublin seems to be supported by the discovery of a 13th-century ‘out-building’ which ‘belongs to Wallace’s Type 5’ in Bride Street, Wexford. In view of the existence of small huts or backyard buildings in Dublin, and probably Wexford (albeit after the Hiberno-Norse period), and 47

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Patrick F. Wallace of our need to have a category for the accommodation of such structures, the term Hiberno-Norse building Type 5 is proposed for small, non-habitation structures such as huts (when such structures were roofed) and pens (when they were not roofed). Pending full analysis of surviving floor deposits, it is likely that such buildings served as tool-sheds, farrowing pens and privies. The introduction of improved carpentry techniques to the towns of Dublin and Waterford in the course of the 11th century seems to have resulted in the construction in Waterford of ‘sill beam houses’. To date this improvement in Dublin has manifested itself only in the construction of better fences, pathways and better built bench/bed revetments and in the 12th and 13th-century houses excavated on Back Lane. The introduction of new construction methods did not always alter house plan or type. However, sometimes new building methods are accompanied by new forms as will be seen also in the case of our next type, the stonewalled buildings. The ‘radically different’ method of building employed in these houses and the subdivision of the floor space into aisles being ‘less apparent at this stage’ together with the greater length of the ‘sill beam houses’ compared with the local Type 1 examples, the fact that they had loadbearing walls, and that ‘sill beams were provided with a central grove into which vertical and horizontal boards, or wattle panels (possibly covered with clay)’, suggests that these buildings were of timber-frame construction which is more commonly associated with the high medieval period. Although the ‘sill beam’ buildings may have developed locally from a combination of using better carpentry and a desire to free the floor space of internally located roof-supports in a development earlier suggested, the ‘sill beam’ family appears to be sufficiently separate from the Type 1, from which it may have developed, and to have had the potential for the development of a variety of new forms, that it is here designated Hiberno-Norse building Type 6. Their relatively narrow widths may have to

do with their being accommodated to inherited plot sizes. These buildings fit safely into the Hiberno-Norse period after which they overlap with wattle wall buildings ‘at least until the early 13th century’. Sill beam construction seems to have begun in the early to mid 12th century. The closest relatives of Type 6 buildings in Dublin are the ‘ timber-framed cellars’ which are thought to date ‘between the end of the 12th and the early 14th century’. They also tie in with the carpentry of the 13th-century wooden revetments at Wood Quay, which anyway are thought to embody native (Hiberno-Norse) rather than intrusive carpentry traditions. The discovery of the waterfront assemblage in Dublin and its inclusion of grooved sill-beams both in the context of revetment walling as well as among what were taken to be the base plates of possible warehouse buildings support the acceptance of Hiberno-Norse building Type 6 as a distinctive building type, although it had turned up at only one town, Waterford. The discovery of a rectangular stone building ascribed to the period 1150-70 in Arundel Square, Waterford, in 1990 means that we are probably looking at yet another Hiberno-Norse type. The walls of this building survived to a height of c. 1.5 m. It had a well preserved wooden floor laid on joists and had uprights against the outer wall, possibly ‘to support a cantilevered superstructure’. The date is based on the dendrochronological evidence from the floorboards and uprights (and by implication to the date of the felling of the trees). The date range for the felling of the trees takes in the pre-Norman period and the likelihood is that secular stone buildings date from the 11th century onwards in the towns, notwithstanding the fact that this building may have belonged to the John’s Hospitallers from the early 13th century. Stone church buildings were already on old tradition, widely distributed in Ireland; indeed the quality of stone wall construction is also evident in the apparently near-contemporary later 11th – early 12th-century town walls at both Dublin and Wa-

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Ireland’s Viking Towns terford. The discovery of the 12th-century church of St. Peter in the Waterford excavations only underlines our need to accept stone as a building medium in pre-Norman towns and prepares us for the acceptance of further discoveries of secular structures with load-bearing walls in the HibernoNorse period. The use of stone in town buildings and the changes in house type, such as the possibility of upper floors and new layouts, is worthy of a new building category which in the overall scheme may be called Hiberno-Norse building Type 7. Although such buildings represent a break with the tradition of building in wood, they were not the only ones to give up using internal roof-supports if our understanding of building Type 6 is correct. Whatever about the possibly slight overlap of Hiberno-Norse Type 6 form with that of Type 1, there is also some overlap with the Type 7 (stone) building, particularly in the latter’s use of stout uprights in its external walls and in their both being rectangular constructions having load-bearing walls and no internal roof supports. The separate styling of the ‘sill beam’ family as building Type 6 does not deny its possible relationship to the stone building group. Conclusion There are sufficient similarities and overlaps of physical evidence between the various Irish 11thcentury towns to say that there was such a thing as the Hiberno-Norse town and it did have common distinguishing physical characteristics; there are sufficient similarities to confirm that, archaeologically, these towns may be regarded as a group. As such, how do they compare with towns in the wider Irish, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon worlds? Our 11th-century towns are a full four centuries after the first beginnings of the town in the postRoman world among the trading settlements around the North Sea (e.g. Ribe, Denmark) and two centuries after the first Viking Age urban floruit at Hedeby and Birka. They are also about two centuries later than the Viking longphorts at Dub-

lin and Annagassan and over a century after the reestablished settlement at Dublin. They occurred at a time when the late Anglo-Saxon culture was being influenced by the Normans in England. In Ireland, they coincided with a period of Ua Briain dominance and later, with the reformation of the late 11th- and early 12th-century Irish church and the output of architecture, sculpture, metalwork and manuscript illumination which accompanied it. The old monasteries were still in use in Ireland, and the Hiberno-Norse period would have witnessed in them the building of many of the stone buildings, such as the cathedral at Clonmacnoise, which survive to this day. Of English towns only York’s archaeological evidence presents a range of parallels to the Irish towns. York’s Viking Age settlement was located in the elbow between the Ouse and the Foss, its defensive embankment at Hungate conforms to a scale we are used to in Irish Viking towns, its sunken-feature structures and early buildings find parallels here and historical references link it with Dublin, with which until the mid 10th century it was ruled by the Ivarsson dynasty. The numbers of stone and carpentered buildings even at York would probably have been very different from the contemporary Hiberno-Norse town where the majority of the buildings were wattle-walled, thatched and of low (single storey) stature. The other English towns inevitably have an Anglo-Saxon grid pattern layout as well as large enclosing embankments and buildings with load-bearing walls which were the English norm before and throughout the Viking Age. The popularity of laft or horizontal log walls in the houses of the Baltic and Scandinavian areas by the mid 11th century shows how differently the physical nature of the built town had developed there from the contemporary Hiberno-Norse town. Indeed, Scandinavian and British scholars tend to regard the mid 11th century as the end of the Viking Age. The excavations of the 11th- and 12th- century towns of Oslo, Trondheim (which 49

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Patrick F. Wallace incidentally also produced a 12th-century apsidal church) and Tonsberg show how different were the buildings, defences and even plot layout such as Sigtuna in Sweden, which were newly established and were not developed on older sites, with attendant constrictions of inherited plot sizes and boundaries such as was the case with the Hiberno-

Norse group. These apparent differences in the physical nature of the Hiberno-Norse towns and their contemporaries in the English and Scandinavian worlds only emphasise the need to place them in an overall Irish context in which, eventually, the best parallels will probably be found.

50 The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards: Sources and Contacts John Sheehan

Introduction The first recorded Viking raids on Ireland took place in 795 and over the following forty years or so many sporadic attacks occurred. By the early 840s the Vikings had begun to establish permanent raiding bases or longphuirt along the coastal and inland waterways, the most important of which was located at Dublin. A rather violent period followed, characterised by large-scale attacks, during which the Vikings may have been attempting to conquer territories for settlement. The Irish kings contained the threat, however, and thereafter 9th-century Scandinavian settlement seems to have been confined to a small number of coastal bases and their hinterlands. Several of these seem to have become active as trading centres as well as functioning as raiding bases, and the wealth accumulated in them may well have been very substantial. Much of the 40 kg of silver in the Cuerdale hoard, from Lancashire, for instance, appears to have been accumulated in the late 9th-century Dublin longphort. From the mid-point of the 9th century onwards the Scandinavians became increasingly integrated into the world of Irish politics. They frequently served as military allies for Irish kings, for instance, in their internal power struggles. By the early decades of the 10th century, however, they may have come to realise that they could not conquer and settle territories in Ireland in the same manner as they had in large parts of England and Scotland. Consequently, they may have decided to adopt an

alternative strategy of colonising Ireland economically. To this end they founded a number of trading towns, including Dublin, Limerick and Cork. Over time these were to become accepted elements within the framework of local kingdoms which formed the political structure of Early Medieval Ireland. The new towns became prosperous centres which developed important political and economic interests, both within Ireland and abroad. During the 10th century, for instance, Dublin was heavily involved in the political affairs of the Irish Sea region as well as developing into a commercial centre of international importance. That the nature of Scandinavian activity in Ireland during the Viking Age was distinctive was due in no small measure to the fact that the political, social and economic conditions which the Vikings encountered there differed in several respects to those pertaining elsewhere in the West and the North Atlantic region. The foundation of towns – unknown, for instance, in Scandinavian Scotland – formed one such unique response to Irish conditions, while the establishment of a commercially orientated economy constituted another. Given the nature of this economy it is not surprising that silver, which was used throughout the Viking world as the principal means of exchange, has been found in large amounts in Ireland. Neither is it surprising that the silver-working tradition which was developed there by the Hiberno-Scandinavians became the dominant one of the Viking West. 51

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John Sheehan The purpose of this paper is three-fold: firstly, to provide a brief and very general account of Viking Age silver hoards from Ireland; secondly, to consider the question of the source of the silver represented in these hoards; and, thirdly, to focus attention on the influence exerted by the silverworking traditions of the southern Scandinavian and Baltic regions on that developed in Ireland by the Hiberno-Scandinavians. Hoards in Ireland During the Viking Age it was only in the late Anglo-Saxon economy of Viking Age England that silver circulated for commercial purposes solely in the form of coin. Elsewhere, as in Ireland, it also circulated by weight and was thus acceptable in alternative forms. Consequently silver hoards of Scandinavian or Hiberno-Scandinavian character from Ireland may be composed of coins or of a combination of ingots, ornaments and hack-silver (the cut-up fragments of ingots or ornaments), with or without coins. Over one hundred and thirty silver hoards of general Scandinavian or Hiberno-Scandinavian character have been found there, representing a concentration of wealth unequalled in the West and, indeed, rarely surpassed elsewhere in the Viking World. It should be noted, however, that the Viking Age in Ireland is generally considered to have extended down to as late as 1170, when Dublin was captured by the invading Anglo-Normans. Nonetheless, when one considers only the 9th and 10th century finds, the total of over a hundred hoards which may be safely attributed to this period is still exceptional by any standards. Ireland’s Viking Age silver hoards, like those of the Scandinavian homelands, may be divided into three categories: coinless hoards, mixed hoards and coin hoards. Coinless hoards consist exclusively of non-numismatic material and range in composition from complete ornaments and/or ingots to hack-silver. About half of Ireland’s 9th and 10th century hoards fall into this category,

and a high proportion of these consist wholly or largely of Hiberno-Scandinavian ornaments. Wellknown examples of finds of this type include those from Cushalogurt, Co. Mayo (Hall 1973, 78-85) and from near Raphoe, Co. Donegal (GrahamCampbell 1988, 102-111). The object type that dominates the coinless hoard is the broad-band armring (Fig. 1), the Hiberno-Scandinavian silver artefact type par excellence, the date range of which indicates that the majority of these hoards are assignable to the century between c. 850 and c. 950. In Ireland, coinless hoards may be divided into three sub-groups on the basis of their form and structure (Sheehan 2000). The first constitutes the typical Irish Viking Age coinless hoard, accounting for practically half of the total number. Hoards in this sub-group contain neither ingots nor hacksilver, being composed exclusively of complete ornaments; in most cases these ornaments are of Hiberno-Scandinavian type and vary in number from two to four examples. The second sub-group consists of hoards which contain ingots, with or without ornaments, but no hack-silver. This type is relatively uncommon, representing only sixteen per cent of the total number of coinless hoards. The third sub-group, accounting for thirty-six per cent of the total, is characterised by the presence of hack-silver (whether derived from ingots or ornaments) and most examples also contain ingots. A classic example of this type of hoard is that from Carraig Aille, Co. Limerick, which contains one complete ring, three ring fragments, two ingots and an ingot fragment. Mixed hoards consist of non-numismatic silver combined with coins. Some sixteen of Ireland’s Viking Age hoards are of this type, fifteen of which were deposited during the 10th century, and most of these contain ingots or ingot-derived hack-silver in addition to coins and, occasionally, ornament-derived hack-silver. Three, including that from Co. Antrim (Fig. 2), date to the opening decade of the 10th century and share the characteristic of containing hack-silver derived from or-

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Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards. Sources and Contacts

Fig. 1. Selection of Hiberno-Scandinavian broad-band armrings from Ireland (courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland).

naments of Hiberno-Scandinavian type. The most remarkable of these three, however, is that from Dysart Island, Co. Westmeath, which was deposited c. 907 and consists of eighty-five ingots and ingot fragments as well as twenty-nine pieces of cut ornaments (M. Ryan et al 1984, 339-356). As with the other mixed hoards from Ireland this find has particular implications for the dating of the coinless hoards but, in addition, it is the only hoard known to contain highly fragmented hack-silver derived from a wide variety of ornament types. Hoards consisting exclusively of coins represent an insignificant element, in bullion terms, of the overall silver wealth of the Viking Age in Ireland. While over sixty examples are on record most of these are rather small in size (M. Kenny 1987, 518). The majority was deposited after c. 940 and the type of issues found in them are predominately Anglo-Saxon. However, Arabic coins, as well as those issued by the Viking Northumbrian and East Anglian rulers, are also represented, while Hiberno-Norse issues dominate the composition of the 11th-century hoards. A number of interesting patterns reveal themselves when the distribution of Ireland’s Viking Age silver hoards is plotted (Fig. 3). The distribution of the coinless hoards is fairly evenly spread, but with a pronounced concentration in the central midlands, while the distributions of the mixed

and coin hoards are focused on the midlands and the east coast. Given that most of the hoards were deposited in areas of the country that were not controlled or settled by the Scandinavians, and on the basis of other evidence, it may be concluded that a very considerable amount of silver wealth ended up in native Irish ownership. The means by which the Irish acquired this wealth are not obvious, though it seems likely that these hoards evidence trade – as well as processes of tribute and gift-exchange – between the Scandinavians and the Irish. The progression of the Viking Age silver economy in Ireland may be gauged by noting the changing structure of its hoards. There appears to be a steady transformation from the late 9th- and early 10th-century bullion economy, with its coinless hoards, to one in which imported coins begin to be conserved and retained – presumably for commercial purposes. This transition is represented by the mixed hoards, with their coins, ingots and hack-silver, and it is tempting to associate it with the foundation of the Scandinavian towns during the opening decades of the 10th century. From the mid-point of this century onwards, however, the coinless and mixed hoards decline strongly in significance while the coin hoards rise to the fore. By the beginning of the 11th century the transformation from the bullion economy is completed, fol53

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John Sheehan

Fig. 2. Mixed hoard, with hack-silver, provenanced to ‘Co. Antrim.’ Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.

lowing the establishment of the Hiberno-Norse mint in Dublin in c. 997. The predominantly 10th-and 11th-century range of deposition dates for the coin hoards does not reflect the period during which the Scandinavians first introduced silver into Ireland. Analysis and dating of the coinless and mixed hoards, which account, in bullion terms, for the great bulk of Viking Age silver in Ireland, indicate that the period during which the greatest amounts of silver were imported lies between c. 850 and c. 950. Given the general scarcity of coin hoards and the small amounts of identifiable non-numismatic silver imports that date to this period, it may be inferred that much of the imported silver – whether in the form of coins, ornaments or ingots – was routinely melted down for conversion into the or-

nament types characteristic of the Hiberno-Scandinavian tradition. Products of this silver-working tradition, which was centred on the settlement of Dublin (Sheehan 1998a, 177-183) and, to a much lesser extent, the Munster towns (Sheehan 1998b, 154-156), account for the clear majority of the culturally diagnostic components of Ireland’s coinless and mixed hoards. Apart from confirming the vigorous nature of their tradition, this point raises the question of what sources of silver were used by the Hiberno-Scandinavians. Silver sources The presence of imported silver objects and coins in Ireland’s Viking Age hoards has implications concerning this question of silver sources. Only a limited number of hoards feature objects derived

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Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards. Sources and Contacts

Coinless hoard Mixed hoard Coin hoard





0 10



Metres OD


50 miles


80 km

Fig. 3. Distribution of Viking Age silver hoards (9th and 10th centuries) in Ireland.

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John Sheehan from Scandinavia and the Baltic region, less than fifteen per cent of the total, but these objects should be regarded as being merely representative of the much larger quantities of material that were routinely consigned to the Hiberno-Scandinavian melting-pot on arrival in Ireland (Sheehan 1998a, 184-194). Relevant hoards in this regard, featuring imported material, include those from: Dysart Island, Co. Westmeath (M. Ryan et al 1984, 339356), deposited c. 907, which contains hack-silver fragments of penannular brooch and armring types of Baltic origin; an unlocalised find from Co. Dublin (Graham-Campbell 1976, 49), deposited c. 935, which contains fragments of a spiral-ring of the type commonly found in southern Scandinavian and Baltic hoards (Fig. 3); Lough Creeve, Co. Meath (Sheehan 1998a, 189-190), which contains a hack-silver fragment of a Norwegian variant of a Baltic type penannular brooch; and Rathmooley, Co. Tipperary (Sheehan 1992, 211-215), which contains a rod armring of Norwegian manufacture. The recognisable imported objects in Ireland’s hoards, such as the examples listed above, are derived in the main through southern Scandinavia and the Baltic region. This is of particular interest as it is from this region also that Arabic coins found their way to Ireland. Arabic coins of Kufic type are of regulated weight and high silver content. Consequently they were in great demand in Viking Age Scandinavia, where they were valued as bullion rather than as currency, and they were acquired in large quantities through trading routes that stretched along the great Russian rivers. Within Scandinavia they are found in the greatest numbers on Gotland, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Finland, with Norway producing significantly smaller totals (Hovén 1981, 122123). Programmes of analysis on ingots, ornaments and hack-silver from southern Swedish hoards (Arrhenius et al 1973; Hårdh 1976, 11027) have demonstrated that high proportions of the tested material corresponded closely in metallurgical composition to that of Arabic coinage, in-

dicating that significant quantities of the latter was melted down on arrival in the Baltic region. In Ireland and Britain, Arabic coins form part of twenty-one hoards – two-thirds of which were deposited between c. 900 and c. 930. Ten of these are from Ireland, where most are found in northern Leinster, while the majority of the British finds are from the north and north-west of England. Though the dominant distributional pattern of these coins in the West may be identified, in the geographical sense, as an Irish Sea one, their cultural context should probably be regarded as Hiberno-Scandinavian. This view is reinforced when the strong Hiberno-Scandinavian elements of several of the hoards from Britain which contain such coins are considered (Sheehan 1998a, 187-188). In Ireland, Arabic coins are more than twice as likely to occur in hoards containing non-numismatic material as in those which are composed entirely of coins. This may indicate that the Arabic material tended to form part of the same circulation as the non-numismatic silver and, in addition, it reinforces the likelihood that recycled Arabic silver was used, alongside silver from other sources, to make Hiberno-Scandinavian ornaments and ingots. Included among these other sources are the non-numismatic material from Scandinavia and the Baltic region, as discussed above, which is represented in the hoards from Ireland, as well as coined silver from Anglo-Saxon England and elsewhere. Coin and mixed hoards from Ireland include, in addition to the Arabic material, a large proportion of Anglo-Saxon coins, as well as issues from the Viking Northumbrian and Anglian rulers and the Carolingian empire. While it is likely that considerable quantities of coins of these types were melted down to contribute to the source of silver for the Hiberno-Scandinavian industry, this cannot be demonstrated in the absence of a comprehensive programme of metallurgical analysis. Unfortunately, only one such programme of significance has been carried out on Viking Age silver

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Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards. Sources and Contacts

Fig. 4. Fragment of a ‘Permian’ spiral-ring from Ireland, unprovenanced (courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland).

from Ireland – that from the Dysart Island mixed hoard of coins and hack-silver (M. Ryan et al 1984, 356-361). Its results indicated that this silver was not won from any known ore source in Ireland and, in addition, that the silver used to produce the Dysart ingots derived from broadly similar sources to those represented in the hoard from Cuerdale (Kruse 1992, 81) – a finding which is of some interest in that the Dysart and Cuerdale hoards share other important characteristics (Graham-Campbell 1987c, 112). In Britain, however, several analytical programmes have been carried out on a broad range of non-numismatic silver objects, including some from hoards with strong Hiberno-Scandinavian elements, and in some cases it has proved possible to demonstrate the probable use of Arabic and/or Anglo-Saxon silver as the source for particular objects. In the case of the Skaill, Orkney, hoard, for instance, the compositions of some of its ornaments and ingots were shown to be similar to those of Arabic coins (Kruse & Tate 1995, 74-75). On the other hand, the composition of some of the components of the hoard from Storr Rock, Skye, were closer to those

of Anglo-Saxon coins, though these do not seem to have provided their sole source. On present evidence, therefore, it seems that a mixed stock of silver was being used in the Irish Sea area, particularly during the later 9th and early 10th centuries, and that this was derived from both recycled Arabic and Anglo-Saxon coinage as well as from the non-numismatic silver imported from Scandinavia and the Baltic region. Although it served as one of the sources for its silver supply, the Anglo-Saxon world had no apparent influence on the Hiberno-Scandinavian silver-working tradition in terms of the characteristic form and ornamentation of its products. Presumably this is simply because Anglo-Saxon silver was imported into Viking Age Ireland solely in coin form. Scandinavian and Baltic silver, on the other hand, was also imported in the form of ornaments. Although most of these were melted down and recycled, the scale of influence of the latter silver-working traditions on those of Ireland may be gauged by considering the origins of the principle product of the Hiberno-Scandinavian tradition – the broad-band armring. In numerical terms broad-band armrings form the most important product of the Hiberno-Scandinavian silver-working tradition (Sheehan 1998a, 178-180). Rings of this type are usually of penannular form and are made from a thick, flat band which tapers in width from the mid-point towards the terminals. They are normally decorated with rows of transversely disposed stamped grooves, formed with distinctive bar-shaped punches, and feature, in most cases, a diagonal-cross motif on the expanded central area (Fig. 1). Over one hundred examples are on record from Ireland where they are known to occur, sometimes in hack-silver form, in twenty-three hoards. Examples are also found in hoards from Britain and Norway, including those from Cuerdale, in which a substantial portion of the non-numismatic silver is demonstrably of Hiberno-Scandinavian origin (GrahamCampbell 1987c, 339-340) and Slemmedal, Aust57

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John Sheehan Agder (Blindheim 1981, 16-18). The occurrence of this type of armring in a number of coin-dated hoards from Ireland, Britain and Scandinavia indicates that the type developed during the second half of the 9th century and continued in general circulation until c. 930-40 (Graham-Campbell & Sheehan 1996, 776). The evidence from Ireland suggests that broadband armrings were manufactured there, probably by the Hiberno-Scandinavians centred on Dublin, for the storage and circulation of silver. Although it is likely that they also served as status objects, the rings appear to have been manufactured to conform to variations on a target weight-unit of 26.15 g. The weights of individual rings were not intended to be precise multiples or sub-multiples of this target unit, and weighing would have been required during commercial transactions. The nature of a metal-weight economy necessitated the reduction of ornaments to hack-silver, and examples of broad-band armrings reduced to this form occur in many hoards in Ireland. It has been proposed by Graham-Campbell (in Brooks & Graham-Campbell 1986, 96-98) and Sheehan (1998a, 194-198) that the origins of the broad-band armring type, as developed in Ireland, lie in 9th-century Denmark. Ultimately, this is because of the importance of the southern Scandinavian and Baltic region as a source for the silver used to supply, through Denmark, the HibernoScandinavian silver-working tradition. The case for the Danish inspiration for this armring type rests on the occurrence of rings of similar form and ornamentation in several 9th-century hoards from Denmark and Skåne. It is likely that these latter rings are of local manufacture given that contemporary variants of spiral-rings produced in Denmark (such as those from the Illebølle Hoard: Munksgaard 1970, 59) feature ornament such as transversely disposed stamped grooves and diagonal crosses – which is closely related to that on the armrings. Thus, given its early date, combined with its form and ornamentation, this Danish

form of armring may be regarded as the prototype for the Hiberno-Scandinavian broad-band series. This view is supported by the occurrence of a fragment of such a prototype ring in the hoard from Croydon, Surrey, which was deposited c. 872. On the basis of its contents, its geographical context and its probable connections with the Great Army’s campaign in England, this hoard may reasonably be regarded as Danish in origin (Brooks & Graham-Campbell 1986, 110). Its location in the south of England may indicate the route by which some of the southern Scandinavian and Baltic materials discussed above may have travelled to reach Ireland. Several individual armrings that could either be imported prototype rings from Denmark or Hiberno-Scandinavian copies of these may be identified in finds from both Britain and Ireland. A ring possibly from the Irish midlands, for instance, and a hack-silver fragment from the Cuerdale hoard (B.M. Reg. No’s 53,10-14, 3 and 41, 7-11, 277, respectively) bear close comparison with the prototype armring in the hoard from Hørdum, Jutland (Skovmand 1942, 29-30). It is also possible to identify certain close parallels between the motifs and schemes of ornamentation exhibited on Hiberno-Scandinavian broad-band armrings and on related Danish material. These parallels include the use of bar-punches with serrated edges or central rows of pellets, such as were used to ornament the rings in the Kærbyholm, Odense, hoard, (Munksgaard, 1970, 59-60), on rings from many finds in Ireland, including those from Cave Hill, Co. Antrim, Roosky, Co. Donegal, Cushalogurt, Co. Mayo and Carraig Aille, Co. Limerick. Similarly, the use of plain bar-punches on armrings in the hoards from Hørdum and Nørre Anslev, Falster, is paralleled on a selection of Hiberno-Scandinavian rings from Ireland, such as those found at Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. The identification of these types of punch serves to reinforce the proposed links between the Hiberno-Scandinavian silverworking tradition and that of 9th-century Den-

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Ireland’s Viking Age Hoards. Sources and Contacts mark, as these were not commonly used to ornament silver objects within Scandinavia itself. In fact, they appear to be entirely lacking from Norway, where individual-motif punches appear to have been the preferred fashion. Conclusion Three important issues, worthy of further and more detailed consideration, arise from the points considered in this paper. The first concerns the finding that, despite the fact that both the historical and the archaeological evidence clearly indicate that the Norwegians were much more concerned with Ireland than were the Danes, the southern Scandinavian and Baltic regions – through Denmark – were of greater importance than Norway to the development of the most important silver-working tradition in the West. Is there other

evidence in the archaeological record to support the existence of important connections between Ireland and Denmark and, if so, is this also to be understood within the context of Denmark as a supplier of silver? The second issue concerns the economic factors that were involved in the importation of large quantities of silver into Ireland during the Viking Age. To date there has been little consideration given to this complex and important question. Any such consideration, however, must inevitably take the third issue – the role of Ireland’s 9th-century longphuirt – into account. The large quantities of silver in circulation in Ireland before the establishment of true urban centres in the 10th century, combined with the evidence for a thriving bullion economy there at this time, argue for a radical reassessment of these little-understood settlements.

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The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland Stephen H. Harrison

Introduction ‘Viking’ graves in Ireland, as elsewhere, may be defined as those containing individuals buried according to traditions which are recognisably Scandinavian in inspiration, and which date from the 9th and 10th centuries. In contemporary Scandinavia, burial customs were relatively diverse, but in many regions men and women who held a certain status in society were buried with artefacts which reflected this status. Furnished burials of this type, both male and female, are found throughout the British Isles, from Clibberswick (Shetland) to Tilehurst (Berkshire), and from Santon Downham (Norfolk) to Eyrephort (Co. Galway), but examples are relatively rare in Scandinavian England (Wilson 1976, 97). Instead, burials of this type are concentrated in a broad band which extends from Orkney and Caithness southwards through the western isles of Scotland to the Irish Sea region, where they are found along the east coast of Ireland, in Cumbria, and on Man (Fig. 1). Within this area, there are definite regional differences in terms of nucleation, proportions of male and female burials, and date, but the general distribution pattern loosely reflects known Scandinavian settlement patterns, and may be linked to a major trading route which ran from the west coast of Norway through the northern and western Isles of Scotland to Dublin and beyond (Crawford 1987, 11-13; 16-27).

Fig. 1. Distribution Map showing Viking Graves in Ireland and the British Isles (after Wilson 1976, fig. 1).

In Scandinavia itself, furnished graves from the Viking Age have traditionally been identified and dated using their grave-goods, and this approach has also been used throughout the British Isles, where the fact that many of the artefacts can be directly linked to Scandinavian typologies has facilitated this process. In Ireland, Viking burials, however modestly furnished, have always been partic61

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Stephen H. Harrison ularly prominent in the archaeological record because the practice of burial with grave-goods was virtually unknown throughout the Irish Iron Age. History Although Viking graves in Ireland attracted interest from a very early date, a lack of comparative material meant that many early antiquarians had considerable difficulty with their interpretation. In 1788, for example, J. C. Walker noted that an iron sword and ‘helmet’ (probably a shield boss) had been found with ‘several human bones’ at what is now Parnell Square, Dublin, without making any suggestion that it might have been a burial (Walker 1788, 131 fn). To the modern observer, however, the absence of other furnished Iron Age graves has led to the site’s interpretation as a Viking grave, despite the fact neither the artefacts nor the bones can be identified today (e.g. Bøe 1940, 67). The earliest Viking grave to be recognised as a burial, and the earliest from which the grave-goods have survived, is a male grave from Larne (Co. Antrim), found in November 1840 (Fanning 1970, 71). When J. Huband Smith exhibited this material at the Royal Irish Academy two months later, the grave was assumed to be Irish in origin, and debate centred on whether it provided evidence for Thomsen’s new ‘three age system’ or was actually of high medieval date (Smith 1841, 43-4). Smith published several other accounts of what are now recognised as Viking burials, but the subject received little attention in subsequent years, despite the acquisition of a very substantial group of grave goods by the Royal Irish Academy in 1845. These were discovered during the excavation of a railway cutting at Kilmainham (Co. Dublin), and were first recognised as Scandinavian by J.J.A. Worsaae, while on a visit in 1846 (D. Henry 1995, 13-14). While members of the Academy seem to have been quite happy to accept his word on this matter, they were less convinced by his argument that these artefacts were grave-goods. Even when a

second, substantial group of Viking grave goods were found at Islandbridge, less than a kilometre west of Kilmainham, in 1866, William Wilde rejected the idea that the site had been a cemetery, preferring to interpret it as an ancient battle-field where slain ‘Scandinavian invaders’ ‘lay there on the lightly covered gravel field…until the birds of prey picked their bones and the weeds, grass, and soil accumulated over them during the (intervening) eight or nine hundred years (Wilde 1866, 14). Although Wilde made no attempt to draw direct parallels between Kilmainham and Islandbridge, the artefacts from the two sites have subsequently become very confused, thus generating a largely mythological ‘vast Viking cemetery’ in the area (E. O’Brien 1998, 35). By the early 1900s, Irish Viking graves were being recognised with some degree of confidence, albeit on the basis of grave goods alone. In the case of the women’s graves from Three Mile Water / Arklow (Co. Wicklow) and Ballyholme (Co. Down), the graves were destroyed long before any archaeologist had a chance to view the site (Coffey 1902, 71; Cochrane 1906, 451-2). The male grave from Eyrephort (Co. Galway) was also disturbed, but a rapid response by the National Museum allowed the recovery of some skeletal material, and a reasonably accurate reconstruction of the layout of the grave (Raftery 1961, 3). To date, only two furnished burials have been excavated with any degree of precision, both at Islandbridge in the period 1933-4, and neither has been comprehensively published (see Bøe 1940, 59-65; Fig. 2). Thus, our interpretation of Irish Viking graves relies on a whole variety of records, both published and unpublished, which were compiled by individuals with a wide range of interests and capabilities over a period of more than a hundred and fifty years. In general, the earliest records are the least accurate, but there are exceptions to this rule, perhaps most notably in the case of the 1845 Kilmainham material, which is recorded in three different catalogues (Fig. 3). This stands in stark contrast to the 1869

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 2. Viking Grave under excavation at Islandbridge, 20 October 1934. This extended male inhumation was accompanied by a sword and spearhead, found on opposite sides of the skeleton. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

find from Islandbridge, where the individual artefacts are not listed in any extant contemporary source. Distribution The distribution pattern of Viking graves in Ireland is very different to that in Scotland, Cumbria and Man. There, the vast majority of burials are isolated, single graves, with the only large concentrations of burials occurring at Pierowall and Westness (Orkney). In Ireland, this pattern is reversed, with approximately 80% of all known Viking graves coming from within five kilometres of the centre of Dublin (Fig. 4). Of these burials, almost 75% (c. 60% of all Irish graves) come from

either Kilmainham or Islandbridge. The sheer volume of finds from these sites, coupled with a number of flaws in the record, make it difficult to estimate the total numbers from either cemetery, but current research would suggest that together they contained a minimum of 43 furnished burials. A further 11 burials are known from other sites in the immediate environs of Dublin, but no more than 16 graves are known from other parts of Ireland. As material suggesting up to five additional graves cannot be provenanced at the present time, this gives a grand total of approximately 71-76 burials for the island as a whole (1). In Dublin, recent research has emphasised the fact that Kilmainham and Islandbridge were actu63

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Stephen H. Harrison

Fig. 3. Plunket Table 46, probably dating from 1847, illustrating six swords, two spear heads, two axe heads and four gaming pieces, all found at Kilmainham in 1845. The Plunket ‘tables’ were originally prepared as part of a pictorial catalogue of artefacts in the RIA collections. The original water colour is preserved in the NMI archive. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 4. Viking Burials in the Dublin Area (after Ó Flóinn 1998a, fig. 5.1).

ally two separate cemeteries (E. O’Brien 1998), but Kilmainham alone remains the largest Viking cemetery in Western Europe, with direct evidence for a minimum of 30 furnished burials, of which 27 are male and three female. The cemetery at Islandbridge, approximately 800 m further west, was rather smaller, with a minimum of 10 male and three female graves. This figure, although rather more modest than Kilmainham, makes Islandbridge the second-largest concentration of furnished burials in the British Isles south of Orkney. Two other cemeteries are known at Dublin, of which College Green contained at least three male burials, while Parnell Square has produced evidence (unfortunately now lost) for a minimum of two male graves. There are also a number of single graves in the area, of which one, from the Phoenix Park, was female, while those from Cork Street,

Bride Street and Kildare Street were male. Slightly further from the site of the original longphort, there is evidence for single male burials at Dollymount Strand and Aylesbury Road (Donnybrook), on opposite sides of the modern city (Bøe 1940, 65-8). Outside the immediate environs of Dublin, a number of burials have been found within the settlement’s political ambit – that area known as Dyflinarskiri (Bradley 1988, 56-62). The two most certain examples are a woman’s grave from Three Mile Water / Arklow (supra) and a male grave from the Morragh (both Co. Wicklow; Ó Flóinn 1998b, 29-35). West of Dublin, and outside the area normally associated with Dyflinarskiri, there are a group of unusual graves, including two examples of what appear to be burials of men and horses together, one at Athlumney, just outside Navan (Co. Meath; Wilde 1861, 573-4), and 65

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Stephen H. Harrison another at an unknown site between Milltown and Newbridge (Co. Kildare; Anon. 1859, 121). At Croghan Erin (Co. Meath) an iron spearhead was found in the upper levels of a prehistoric burial mound, and it is possible that this may represent a male grave of Viking Age date (Larcom 1849, 388-9). An iron axe-head (now lost) was found at Barnhall, near Leixlip (Co. Kildare) in the 18th century and may also represent a male grave, although this is far from certain (Ó Flóinn 1998a, 145). Swords have also been recovered from Tybroughney (Co. Kilkenny; unpublished) and Murgesty Hill (Co. Tipperary; unpublished) and it is possible that these may also represent poorly furnished male graves. A relatively well-furnished male grave from Eyrephort (Co. Galway) is currently the only known Viking grave west of the Shannon and the only one on the west coast (Sheehan 1988, 60-72). Apart from the group around Dublin, the most marked concentration of burials is along the NE coast, in Counties Antrim and Down. The only known Viking cemetery outside Dublin was found on Rathlin Island (Co. Antrim) in the last century. It comprised at least three burials, one male and two indeterminate (Warner 1974, 61-3). The Larne burial has already been mentioned, as has the female burial from Ballyholme, slightly further south (supra). A fragmentary sword from Leger Hill (Co. Antrim) may also represent a male grave, while a sword from the churchyard at St. John’s Point (Co. Down) almost certainly represents another poorly furnished male grave. In many ways, this group of seven burials have as much in common with the western Isles of Scotland as the rest of Ireland, indicating a Scandinavian presence on the west side of the North Channel. In the past, these north-eastern burials, as with all male graves outside Dublin, have generally been interpreted as the graves of Scandinavians killed while raiding. More recently, however, there has been a tendency to stress the probable links between furnished Viking graves and a relatively per-

manent Scandinavian presence in the same area, even in cases where there is no direct documentary evidence for this, as at Eyrephort (Co. Galway; Sheehan 1988, 68-70). In general, however, the distribution pattern of Viking graves tends to conform to known areas of Scandinavian settlement on the east coast, with the major concentration of burials at Dublin confirming the importance of that settlement in Ireland, and indeed the western British Isles as a whole. The importance of Dublin is further emphasised by the wealth and variety of the grave-goods found in its hinterland, and at Kilmainham and Islandbridge in particular. Grave-goods In Ireland, as elsewhere in Western Europe, gravegoods were often the only element of Viking burials to be recorded or preserved before the 1920s, due to a widespread lack of interest in human remains. Where small groups of artefacts were recovered, perhaps representing one or two burials, it is often possible to reconstruct the contents of these graves and to provide a reasonable interpretation of the burials. In the case of Dublin, however, the sheer volume of grave goods and their concentration at Kilmainham and Islandbridge make it very difficult to divide them into individual graves. Even in this situation, however, minimum numbers can be calculated using certain artefact types which occur in limited numbers in most furnished graves. These same characteristic artefacts can be used to determine the sex of the interred individual, even in situations where the skeletal material has not survived. Female graves The single most common artefact type found in female graves, and paradoxically the type most frequently used to recognise such graves, is the oval brooch. These were normally worn in pairs at the shoulders, and formed part of a moderately wealthy woman’s attire in the western part of the Viking world (Kaland 1992, 192). They are very distinctive, and were among the first artefacts to be

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 5. Pair of Oval Brooches (Petersen type 37.3/9), probably from Islandbridge. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

recognised as characteristically Scandinavian by Irish, Scottish and English antiquarians. In Ireland, they occur in a very limited range of patterns. A site close to the river at Kilmainham produced a pair of early brooches of Berdal type A, dated by Petersen (1928, 14-15) to the first half of the 9th century, close to the foundation date of Dublin in 841. The Three Mile Water / Arklow brooches, on the other hand, are of Petersen type 51 and seem to date from the late 9th to late 10th centuries (Ó Flóinn 1998b, 32). With the exception of a single brooch from the river Bann, all of the remaining brooches from Irish contexts are simple single-shelled types which can be broadly dated to the 9th century (Fig. 5). None show any signs of local influence, suggesting that they were

imported from Scandinavia, where a number of production centres are known. The small numbers of brooches which have been found also suggest that they formed part of the personal possessions of migrating Scandinavian women rather than large-scale exports. It is clear that they were never particularly popular in Ireland, and recent research has indicated that there is at least one relatively well-furnished female grave at Islandbridge in which the woman was not buried with oval brooches, although she was buried with beads. Strings of beads are relatively common in women’s graves in Scandinavia, where they are often found suspended between two oval brooches, and it is possible that two other strings of beads from Islandbridge were associated with two pairs of oval 67

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Stephen H. Harrison brooch in addition to the oval ones (Hall 1974, 39-40). The Ballyholme burial, on the other hand, only produced a small copper alloy bowl in addition to its oval brooches (Cochrane 1906, 450). In addition to oval brooches, beads, chains, and other pieces of jewellery, the Islandbridge site has produced a number of artefacts which almost certainly accompanied one or more of the women’s graves there. These include a whale-bone plaque, a linen smoother, a needle case and a number of spindle whorls, all items associated with cloth production or care. A roasting spit from Kilmainham may also have come from a woman’s grave.

Fig. 6. Sword, Spearhead, Comb, Ringed Pin and Bone Fragment found together with a Skeleton at Larne, Co. Antrim in 1840. Contemporary Illustration (after Smith 1841).

brooches recovered at the same time (1866). In the case of the Three Mile Water / Arklow burial, a set of gilt chains were suspended between the brooches (Ó Flóinn 1998b, 32-3), while the Phoenix Park grave seems to have contained a smaller

Male graves Just as the most common artefact type in female graves are oval brooches, so the most common artefacts in male graves are weapons. Unlike oval brooches, weapons of Viking Age types have occasionally been found on habitation sites in Ireland, but these are the exception rather than the rule, and it can be assumed that the bulk of 18th- and 19th-century finds, particularly those from dry, rural contexts, represent male burials. A typical well-furnished example of a male grave is that from Larne (Co. Antrim), where the skeleton was accompanied by a sword and spear head, as well as a comb, ringed pin and bone fragment (Fig. 6). These two weapon types are by far the most common throughout the Viking world. Swords are the most common Viking Age weapon found in Ireland, perhaps because they were easily recognised and preserved in the past. As the most prestigious weapon of the Viking Age, it can certainly be assumed that they were rarely lost and are unlikely to have been buried for safekeeping in times of danger. Consequently, most of the Viking Age swords from dry contexts on the island can be assumed to represent poorly furnished male graves. These sites include Cork Street and Kildare Street (Dublin; Bøe 1940, 68) and the Morragh (Co. Wicklow; supra). Swords from Tybroughney (Co. Kilkenny; unpublished) and St

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 7. Three Decorated Sword Hilts found in Irish Viking Graves. Of these, Wk.3 was probably found at Kilmainham around 1845, Wk.15 was probably found at Islandbridge in 1869, and Wk.21 was found at Islandbridge in 1866. All three are double edged. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

John’s Point (Co. Down; unpublished) are even more likely to represent Viking graves, in that they are described as coming from areas containing human remains, or indeed formal cemeteries. Swords are also common in more richly furnished burials, such as Larne (Co. Antrim) and Eyrephort (Co. Galway; both supra). While it is difficult to associate swords with other artefacts at Kilmainham and Islandbridge, there are at least 23 extant examples from Kilmainham and 10 from Islandbridge. These probably represent either the same number of male graves or perhaps slightly fewer, as some burials in

other parts of the Viking world were accompanied by more than one sword. Most swords found in Ireland correspond to known Scandinavian types, with more than a quarter corresponding to Petersen’s type H, the most common in Norway (Walsh 1998, 229-230). Both single and double-edged swords are known from Ireland, but outside Dublin, all extant examples are double-edged. Even in Dublin, single-edged swords are confined to the cemeteries of Kilmainham, Islandbridge, and College Green, suggesting that their popularity was always limited in Ireland. 69

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Stephen H. Harrison




Fig. 8. Three Viking Age Shield Bosses. Wk.5 is a Scandinavian boss damaged before burial, probably found at Islandbridge in 1869. Wk.17 is a ‘Dublin type’ boss, found at Kilmainham in 1845, and Wk.4 is a contemporary boss of an Irish type, found at Lagore in the late 1830s or early 1840s (after Coffey & Armstrong 1910, fig. 5).

The majority of the swords from Irish Viking graves are undecorated, but a number of examples, both single and double-edged, have elaborate hilts (Fig. 7). Decorated hilts are particularly common among the Kilmainham assemblage, but there are a number of examples from other parts of the country, such as the Morragh (Co. Wicklow). After the sword, the most common weapon to be recovered from Viking burial contexts is the spear. A number of examples are known from the three cemeteries at Dublin, as well as Bride Street (Dublin), Larne (Co. Antrim) and Eyrephort (Co. Galway). While most of the swords from Viking graves correspond closely with Scandinavian types, it has been suggested that some of the spears are slightly more unusual and may show local Irish influences (Bøe 1940, 26). The spear from Croghan Erin (Co. Meath) is particularly unusual, and has been interpreted as a poorly furnished male grave largely on the basis of context, having been found below the surface of a Bronze Age burial mound (Larcom 1849, 388-9). With the exception of this site, and that of the large cemeteries (where it is difficult to associate artefacts precisely), spears seem to have been placed in graves with other weapons, rather than by themselves. Axes are also occasionally found in Irish Viking graves. In the 12th century, Giraldus Cambrensis specifically associated the use of the axe with the ‘Ostmen’ (the descendants of Scandinavian sett-

lers) (O’Meara 1951, 122), but the evidence from Viking burials would tend to suggest that this development took place after pagan burial practices were abandoned. Only two axes have been recovered from burial contexts in Ireland, both from Kilmainham in 1845. There is also a possible third example from Barnhall, (Co. Kildare), which was found in the 18th century, and which may have represented a burial (supra). Whatever the nature of this last find, however, it is clear that the axe is comparatively under-represented among Viking grave-goods. Arrowheads are equally rare, and have only been found at Kilmainham, where the available evidence would suggest a minimum of two graves which were furnished with these objects. There is no evidence that armour or helmets were ever placed in Irish Viking graves, but shield bosses are quite common. These occur in two main types – a large hemispherical variety which is closely paralleled in Norway, corresponding to Rygh’s type R562 (Petersen 1919, 17), and a smaller conical type which forms just under three quarters of the extant Dublin assemblage, but is almost unknown elsewhere (Fig. 8). As Irish shield bosses were also relatively small at this time, it has recently been suggested that these shield bosses, like the spears, also exhibit local influence (Harrison 1995, 108-118). Swords, spears and shield bosses are by far the most common artefacts found in male graves, but

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 9. The Kilmainham Brooch. Front View. The precise context of this artefact is uncertain: like several other brooches of this period, it may have been placed in a grave or simply buried for safekeeping. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

a limited number of other artefacts are known. Perhaps the most certain evidence of craft activity among the male population of Dublin is provided by a set of smith’s tools found at Islandbridge in 1866. A number of single-edged socketed knives have also been found at Kilmainham, but these are at least as likely to have been tools as weapons. As such, some may come from female as well as male graves. Comparative evidence from other parts of the Scandinavian world would also suggest that scales and weights, although more likely to come from male graves, are also occasionally found accompanying a female burial (see next section). Kilmainham and Islandbridge have produced a total of three sets of balance scales, and Islandbridge has

also produced a magnificent group of weights, almost all of them decorated in an insular style. Miscellaneous artefacts As will be clear from the previous section, a number of artefact types, such as sickles, and perhaps scales and socketed knives can be found in both male and female graves. Smaller, tanged knives are also known from both Kilmainham and Islandbridge and were presumably used for domestic or craft functions. As such, they may have accompanied male or female burials. Gaming pieces have also been found, as have a number of metallic mounts whose original function is difficult to determine. 71

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Stephen H. Harrison Personal ornaments (other than oval brooches) can also occur in both male and female graves and have also been found at a number of Irish sites. A number of buckles are known from Kilmainham and Islandbridge, but the most spectacular example is surely the silver gilt and amber example from College Green. Simple ringed pins are known from Larne (Co. Antrim), and Kilmainham, and Islandbridge have produced a number of more elaborate penannular brooch heads. Viking Age penannular brooch heads have also been found at a burial site at Knockast (Co. Westmeath; Hencken & Movius 1934, 252), seven feet below the surface of a burial mound near Skreen (Co. Meath; Brackstone 1852, 200) and in the ‘supposed remains of a tumulus three miles (4.8 km) southeast of the town of Galway (Anon. 1857, 248). As no other Viking Age artefacts were found in association with these artefacts, and as there are no references to human remains in direct association with them, it is possible that they may represent ‘stray finds’ or ‘hoards,’ and consequently they have been excluded from the figures used in the ‘Distribution’ section. A similar problem is presented by the so-called ‘Kilmainham’ brooch (Fig. 9). If this magnificent artefact is associated with a Viking burial at that site, it is by far the single richest Viking Age grave-good from an Irish context. Unfortunately, however, this artefact was recovered at a very early date, and its context is far from secure. Hence, it, like the other isolated penannular brooches, may represent a concealed ‘hoard’ rather than the grave-good of an exceptionally rich Scandinavian. Whatever the precise provenance of the Kilmainham brooch, it is clear that Kilmainham and Islandbridge provide the only Irish evidence for moderately well furnished graves. Outside Dublin, Larne and Eyrephort stand out as graves with a number of grave-goods. The vast majority of Viking burials outside Dublin, and indeed within its environs, are comparatively poorly furnished, often containing only a single weapon, or a set of

oval brooches. This comparative paucity of grave goods in Irish Viking graves is unlikely to reflect economic conditions, as other evidence would suggest that the Scandinavian population was relatively wealthy at the time. Instead, the small number of grave-goods may reflect the influence of the burial traditions used by the surrounding Christian milieu throughout this period. In this latter tradition, the placing of any artefacts whatsoever in the grave seems to have been strongly discouraged. Deposition rituals Given the find circumstances of so many Irish Viking graves, it is hardly surprising that most attention has been focused on grave-goods. Often these are the only elements of a burial to survive, or even to be recorded. This is not an entirely false perspective. The deposition of artefacts in the grave seems to have been one of the key features of wealthy Scandinavian burial practices in this period. It might also be argued that this practice is one of the few unifying factors in their burial rites, for they were buried according to a variety of customs, and while our evidence for these customs is minimal, it may, nonetheless, be worth discussing here. Burials with horses and other animal remains Apart from grave-goods, which must themselves have formed part of the rituals associated with burial, our only other information on funerary rites is provided by animal remains, which are occasionally found in Irish Viking graves (2). The most extreme example of this found in Ireland is the deposition of a horse in the same grave, or same area, as the body. This seems to have occurred at Athlumney (Navan, Co. Meath), where a horse skeleton was found with a collection of elaborate horse furnishing and some human bones in 1848. This burial is unusual, however, in that no other gravegoods seem to have been found at the site (Wilde 1861, 573-4). A second possible example of a horse

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland

Fig. 10. Photograph showing Inhumation accompanied by cattle jawbone under Excavation at Islandbridge, 13 April 1934. No artefacts were found in association with this skeleton. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

and human buried side by side was found in a field between Milltown and Newbridge (Co. Kildare), also in the middle of the last century. Here, an iron sword or spear and an elaborate bone pin were found, but there is no evidence for any horse furnishings (Anon. 1859, 121). Evidence for a third possible horse burial is provided by the remains of a bridle found at Islandbridge in 1866. While horse bones are not specifically mentioned in surviving accounts of this last find, it should be pointed out that there is almost no reference to human bones either. Islandbridge has also provided evidence for the deposition of animal remains at rather more modest scale. In the mid 1930s, two graves were found

in the area now occupied by the War Memorial Park. One of the skeletons was accompanied by cattle jawbone, while an ox and horse tooth were found in the second grave (Bøe 1940, 59-60; Fig. 10). While these two graves provide the only certain examples of this practice in Ireland, it should be pointed out that the circumstances under which the vast majority of Viking graves were found would not preclude the suggestion that such deposits were actually far more common than might otherwise be thought. Interestingly, the two graves from Islandbridge with animal remains contained no artefacts whatsoever. Hence, they would almost certainly have been ignored in the last century, and serve to remind us that the furnished Viking 73

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Stephen H. Harrison graves of Ireland, as elsewhere, may only provide evidence for a segment of the insular Scandinavian population. Inhumation and cremation Of the known furnished burials in Ireland, the vast majority would appear to be inhumations, generally extended, as at Kilmainham, Islandbridge and Aylesbury Rd (Co. Dublin), St. John’s Point (Co. Down), Larne (Co. Antrim) and Eyrephort (Co. Galway). References to human bones, presumably indicating some form of inhumation, can be found for Parnell Square (Dublin), Athlumney (Co. Meath) and Newbridge / Milltown (Co. Kildare). In the vast majority of cases, however, only the grave-goods were noted, or have survived to the present day, although it is assumed that the artefacts in question represented an inhumation. This is largely due to the fact that cremation burials in Norway tend to be accompanied by weapons and artefacts that have been bent or damaged in some way (Shetelig 1945, 20). There are a limited number of examples of this practice from Irish contexts, all of which seem to come from either Kilmainham or Islandbridge. As there is also evidence for inhumation at these two sites, this suggests that both types of burial were practised in this area. In 1945, Shetelig suggested that cremation and inhumation were equally popular in Norway (ibid. 3), and the scarcity of cremation burial in Ireland may indicate the influence of the surrounding Christian milieu, where cremation was very much frowned upon. Christian influences Apart from a marked preference for inhumation rather than cremation, and perhaps the relative paucity of grave-goods used in Irish contexts, a Christian influence can also be seen in the sites chosen for Viking burials. In the Western Isles of Scotland, there is a marked tendency for Scandinavian burials to be placed in burial mounds, whether newly constructed or re-used prehistoric

examples, as at Tote (Skeabost, Skye; Lethbridge 1920, 135-6). In Ireland, there is no evidence for any burial mound of Viking Age date, and there are only two possible examples of the practice of placing a Viking Age grave in an earlier mound, neither of which is certain. At Croghan Erin (Co. Meath), it is not absolutely certain that the secondary burial is Viking Age, while at College Green (Dublin), the mound destroyed in the 17th century does not seem to have conformed to any easily recognised prehistoric Irish types. The Hiberno-Scandinavian preference for ‘flat’ graves, presumably marked in some way, may be a Christian influence, albeit an indirect one, for the Scandinavian population of Ireland also showed a marked preference for burial close to Christian churches. Furnished burials near churches include the group from Rathlin Island (Co. Antrim), St. John’s Point (Co. Down), Bride St. (Dublin) and, of course, Kilmainham itself, which was the site of an important monastery founded by St. Maignenn in the 7th century (C. Kenny 1995, 10). Recent work by E. O’Brien has also suggested that the Viking graves at Islandbridge and Aylesbury Road (Dublin) were placed within the precincts of extant Christian cemeteries (E. O’Brien1992, 170-173; 1998, 40) It is of course possible to oversimplify this trend. A number of Viking graves were placed in sites which do not seem to have been used for burial before, as at Larne (Co. Antrim), Eyrephort (Co. Galway), the two sites in Co. Wicklow, and the remaining sites in Dublin, Meath and Kildare. What is almost certain, however, is that the relatively short period of time within which pagan Scandinavian traditions were continued is evidence of the influence of the surrounding Christian milieu from a very early date. Given the nature of Scandinavian activity in Ireland up to the 840s, there can have been few burials before this date, and there are no grave-goods from Irish contexts which date from later than 950. Indeed, the bulk of the artefacts may well date from the 9th rather than the

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Viking Graves and Grave-goods in Ireland 10th centuries. Thus, all known Irish Viking graves seem to have been deposited within a period of fifty to a hundred years. Conclusions Despite the comparatively brief period in which Scandinavian burial practices were used in Ireland, the Irish Viking graves provide a remarkable insight to Hiberno-Scandinavian culture at that time. Graves are virtually unique in the archaeological record because they represent the conscious deposition of associated artefacts by those who were burying a respected member of their community. While we may never be able to reconstruct their precise meaning, the surviving grave-goods provide evidence of a social group for which there is almost no other archaeological evidence. Until the recent excavations at Temple Bar, no 9th-century habitation material had been recovered from Dublin, and even now, the vast bulk of habitation evidence dates from the 10th century or later (Gowan with Scally 1996, 11; Simpson 1999, 9-11). Simi-

larly, only one possible site of Hiberno-Norse rural settlement has been excavated, at Cherrywood (Co. Dublin; Ó Néill 1999, 8-10). By assuming that Viking graves were situated reasonably close to settlements, however, it is possible to make some attempt to reconstruct the pattern of Scandinavian settlement in 9th- and early 10th-century Ireland, although the controversy surrounding the original site of the longphort at Dublin makes it clear that this is not always a straightforward process (e.g. Wallace 1990, 70-74; Clarke 1977, 29-51). As sources, the Viking graves are problematic, and any difficulties are compounded by the limitations of the surviving archive. The Irish Viking Graves Project, based at the National Museum of Ireland, is currently undertaking a full review of the available evidence, both physical and documentary, and it is to be hoped that this will result in a much clearer understanding of what is surely one of the more interesting features of the 9thand 10th-century archaeological record.

Notes (1) At the present time, there is no accurate overview of Viking burials in Ireland. Bøe (1940) remains the most comprehensive account, although his work also contains a great many errors. A more up-to-date summary of the available information can be found in the relevant section of Ó Flóinn (1998a). All estimates of numbers of graves are derived from the figures produced by the Irish Viking Graves Project, begun in 1999, and I would like to thank R. Ó Flóinn for permission to use elements of this research in this paper. Any errors are, of course, entirely my own. (2) I follow E. O’Brien (1992) in rejecting the evidence for human sacrifice at Aylesbury Road (Donnybrook), and consequently will confine myself to a discussion of animal remains in Viking Age graves.

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A View of the Early Irish Church Cormac Bourke

Introduction The conversion of Ireland owes something to unsung evangelists and to undocumented contacts with Gaul and Britain, for it is difficult otherwise to account for the existence of Irish Christian communities as early as 431. In that year, as is well known, Prosper of Aquitaine records that Pope Celestine I sent Palladius as their first bishop to ‘the Irish believing in Christ’, ad Scot[t]os in Christum credentes (Kenney 1929, 165). The fate of his mission is unknown and his career is eclipsed in Irish tradition by that of Patrick. They had contrasting origins, in that Palladius, it seems, came from Gaul whereas Patrick came from Britain, but both were educated, both were bishops and both had a Roman inheritance. Thus contacts with Gaul and Britain are attested in the persons of these two men, although by his own testimony Patrick, unlike Palladius, came to the unconverted. Doubtless the fortunes of the Irish Church were followed by successive popes, even if papal involvement after 431 is undocumented for two hundred years. The missions of Palladius and Patrick have no archaeological dimension (or none yet recognized), although Patrick’s was the paramount saintly cult of medieval Ireland and looms large in the record in a myriad shapes and forms. The first bishops must have come equipped with the essential liturgical accessories, the chalice, wine-strainer and paten, and cannot have functioned without the written word which they upheld and preached. Patrick

has left two ‘letters’ setting out his creed (O’Loughlin 1999); he was remembered in the 7th century writing letters to admonish wayward clergy and teaching his converts to read. Thus gospel-books, psalters and perhaps complete bibles must have been imported and – once schools were established – copied. Writing (in Irish) had earlier made an appearance in the form of ogham, but was restricted alike in its scope and application and, in the form of inscriptions on stone, had a limited geographical range (McManus 1991). The lost component in the archaeological record corresponds to the years between Patrick’s time, c. 450-500, and the end of the 6th century. And these were formative years: a native Christian clergy came into being; the skills of Latin literacy and calligraphy were inculcated; the new religion, in its architecture, was physically manifested and metalworking was adapted to ecclesiastical needs. Literacy in Irish was a secondary development, but Irish had already begun to borrow a host of Latin loan-words describing the buildings, institutions, accoutrements and personnel of the Church. But even as we recognize this revolution, we must allow that conversion was a slow process, and that formal education and literacy were ever a minority preserve. Irish oral tradition assimilated Christianity but had deeper roots and would continue to run its course. A Latin psalter known by the Irish name Cathach dates to c. 600 and is among the oldest surviving 77

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Cormac Bourke Irish manuscripts. Two tomb-shaped reliquaries of about the same date reflect Classical tradition in insular dress. All are products of generations of development but hold an echo of the 5th-century evangelical phase. The two shrines are tiny containers made from bronze plates and were designed to be carried on a strap around the neck. The Clonmore shrine (Fig. 1) was found near Armagh and could have housed some of the imported relics which Armagh boasted in the 7th century. The Bobbio shrine (Fig. 2) derives from the monastery founded by the Irishman Columbanus and might well have been brought from Ireland with his entourage. Both shrines attest a mastery of metalworking in the service of the newly established faith. The 6th century saw the birth of several key figures in Irish Christian history, notably of Columba – to whom the Cathach is by tradition attributed – who died on Iona in 597, and of his namesake Columbanus, who emigrated to Gaul and Italy and who died at Bobbio in 615. These men were not bishops but monks in priestly orders, and their motivation was the monastic ideal. Irish monasteries are associated in the popular mind – and with good reason – with the 8th-century ‘golden age’, in which sculpture, metalworking and manuscript illumination reached heights of sophistication. In practical terms the monasteries were rich, controlled resources, and could afford to be patrons of the arts. By tradition, though inaccurately, the monasteries succeeded and superseded the episcopal system which Palladius and Patrick had known; in fact the bishop held his place and territorial dioceses continued to exist, often coterminous with areas of secular lordship. Moreover, the ‘monasteries’ themselves sometimes had a pastoral role, as reflected in 6th- and 7thcentury penitentials – written codes of correction for specific offences governing clergy and laity alike. The latter, it seems, comprised not all nominal Christians but only those of declared allegiance to the Church or economically dependent upon it

Fig. 1. Clonmore shrine. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.

(Etchingham 1999, 249-71, 290-318). Record-keeping on Iona in the 7th century gave rise to the earliest stratum of the Irish annals. The Annals of Ulster (AU) incorporate this source, and another from Scotland (perhaps from Applecross), as well as annals maintained later at Bangor and Armagh. The language is Latin for the most part until the early 9th century while Irish is used increasingly thereafter. Patrick and Armagh Patrick is regarded as the apostle of the Irish and his writings suggest a pagan environment and an absence of other evangelists in the field. But his words are oblique, obscure and difficult of interpretation, and he offers no autobiography. He eschews dates, place-names and the names of people, so that to locate him in space and time is partly guesswork. Armagh proved adept at guesswork, considering itself the Rome of Ireland and espousing Patrick as an apostolic founder who succeeded where Palladius had failed. In documents written in the 7th century Armagh laid claim – on Patrick’s supposed authority – to a primacy which faced

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A View of the Early Irish Church an object of superstition in 1538. It may have enshrined a fragment of wood from the purported staff of Christ and was probably an 8th-century creation. The promotion of Patrick thus depended equally on retrospective documentation, on hagiography and on material accessories. The primacy of his cult ensured that other cults reflect its influence.

Fig. 2. Bobbio shrine. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland (Moira Concannon).

The Cult of the Saints The preoccupations and creativity of the medieval Church, in Ireland as elsewhere, were witnessed in the cult of the saints. The cult of Columba, like that of Patrick, is well understood and manifests itself in metalwork, sculpture and illumination, in music, place-names and poetry. Columba (or Colum Cille) was born c. 520 into one of the chief

down all challenges, which was papally endorsed in 1152, and which Armagh has enjoyed (with some interruptions) ever since (De Paor 1969; Bieler 1979). In the 9th-century Tripartite Life, the first ‘biography’ of Patrick in the Irish language, Patrick founds Armagh, routs paganism and evangelizes every province (Stokes 1887). But it is a great crux in early Irish studies to sift fact from fiction in the history of Armagh. Suffice it to say that Patrick’s sphere of evangelism was in Ireland’s northern half and that Emain Macha, beside Armagh, had been a politico-religious centre in the pre-Christian age. Patrick may well have founded Armagh and favoured it above his other churches (whatever their number); there are hints that he supplanted not just his fellow bishop Palladius in Ireland’s memory, but a pre-Christian deity as well. Patrick was believed to have been buried at Downpatrick or Saul, and Armagh never claimed to have his bones. But other relics were advanced as substitutes, specifically a crozier, an iron handbell of uncertain date and the 9th-century Book of Armagh (Fig. 3). The crozier, known as the Bachall Ísu, ‘staff of Jesus’, was destroyed in Dublin as

Fig. 3. Book of Armagh, folio 22r (The opening of Patrick’s Confessio). Photo: The Board of Trinity College. Dublin.

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Cormac Bourke royal dynasties of the Uí Néill in what is now Co Donegal. He founded the island monastery of Iona in Scotland c. 563. His move has been interpreted in terms of both penitential exile and zeal to evangelize the Picts, and Bede specifically cites the latter motive (HE iii.4). The Middle Irish life, forgetful of the Picts, anachronistically records the saint’s decision ‘to go across the sea to teach the word of God to Scots and Britons and Saxons’ (Herbert 1988, 236, 260). But this portrait of Columba as exile and evangelist may be a reflex of Patrick’s story, perhaps even a construct to counterbalance Patrician claims. In the primary statement of his sainthood – the vita of c. 700 written by his successor Adomnán – Columba is portrayed not as evangelist but as abbot par excellence; his departure from Ireland is represented as a ‘pilgrimage for Christ’ by separation from family and kin (Sharpe 1995, 105). Columbanus performed a similar act of self-denial in his initial move from Leinster to Ulster, only afterwards achieving a potior peregrinatio, ‘a greater pilgrimage’, by permanent exile in Europe. Whereas Patrick did likewise, crossing ethnic, religious and linguistic frontiers, Columba did none of these things. He moved from Atlantic Ireland to Atlantic Scotland to live among the Irish-speaking Dál Riata, a people who were already Christian, whose ancestry was traced to Ireland and whose social system was identical with his own. Columba moved, admittedly, beyond his kin-group; but he was forty before he left Ireland, and it may be that his career should be seen in terms of a progressive distancing from his native heath, the better to answer his monastic calling. The monastic ideal is not to be underestimated, and that the personnel of Iona came to include Irishmen, Britons, Anglo-Saxons and, in all likelihood, Picts may be more than an accident of location, and such fraternity might well have been planned. Viewed in this light, Columba’s yearning to be a ‘pilgrim for Christ’ takes second place, despite Adomnán, and becomes the corollary of his primary motivation. Columba moved to the edge

of the Gaelic world in 563, to a cultural interface, but the periphery which he chose became the centre of a monastic network in both Ireland and Britain which included Durrow, Derry, Tory, Lambay and, for a period, Lindisfarne, besides unidentified monasteries among the Picts. Kells was founded later than the others, in 807, but was destined to replace Iona as the chief Columban church in the 10th century, a role which passed to Derry in the 12th (Herbert 1988). The cult of Columba was established in the Vita Columbae and is physically expressed in memorable ways. The Book of Durrow is a 7th-century gospel-book which was believed for a thousand years to be the work of the saint’s own hand. The book draws on Anglo-Saxon animal art, on Classical interlace and on the ‘Celtic’ spiral ornament of the ultimate La Tène style, although there is little sign of synthesis of these component streams. The book attests the far-flung catchment of the Columban churches; it might have been written in Ireland or Britain and is not to be narrowly constrained (Meehan 1996). The same applies, in greater degree, to the Book of Kells, which was likewise attributed by tradition to Columba although its date is c. 800. Here is that marriage which the Book of Durrow lacks, a fantastic blend of all available aesthetic strands. The Book of Kells is a monument to the Columban intellectual milieu, whether written in Ireland or Scotland. In fact its place of production, though a matter of debate, is something of a non-issue, given the book’s evident background in the embrace of the Columban world (Meehan 1994). The Book of Kells is distinguished by full-page illuminations, including a Virgin and Child scene – the oldest in the manuscript art of the West – and two scenes of the Temptation and ‘Arrest’ of Christ. The ‘Arrest’ is a subtle image of recognition in which Christ, framed by vines and olive branches, is the ‘anointed one’ and the archetypal priest; the Tempation (Fig. 4) suggests the oneness of Christ and of his metaphysical body, the Church,

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A View of the Early Irish Church

Fig. 4. Book of Kells, folio 202v (Temptation of Christ). Photo: The Board of Trinity College Dublin.

and adapts a Late Antique picture of the desert Tabernacle. The exemplar was accessible to the Co-

lumban monks in the Tyneside monastery of Wearmouth/Jarrow in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, a

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Cormac Bourke

Fig. 5. Monymusk reliquary. Photo: National Museum of Scotland.

community which was visited by Adomnán. The importance of the books of Durrow and Kells as relics of Columba is attested by their enshrinement – the former by an Uí Néill king who died in 916, the latter by a person or persons unknown but probably of the same royal family. Both shrines are lost; that of the Book of Kells motivated its theft in 1007 from its place of safekeeping at Kells. Described by the Annals of Ulster as ‘the chief relic of the western world’, the manuscript was recovered more than two months later,

minus its container, under a sod (C. Bourke 1999). In terms of metalwork the cult of Columba is representative, as witnessed by a small tomb-shaped shrine from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire (Fig. 5). Known as the Breccbennach, ‘speckled peaked [one]’, the shrine dates to the 8th century and is a lineal descendant of those from Bobbio and Clonmore. But here is enamelling and animal ornament in the latest style – a style sometimes termed ‘Pictish’ but really part of the insular canon and equally at home on Irish or Scottish soil. The

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A View of the Early Irish Church shrine was so powerful an emblem of Columba because it contained, doubtless, some fragment of his bones, and it served for that reason as a battle talisman of the Scots. The Cathach, ‘battler’, owes its name to a similar role in internecine Irish feuds. The Breccbennach was almost certainly carried at Bannockburn in 1314 and no doubt contributed to the famous victory which Robert Bruce secured. His sworn enemy Edward I of England, according to Froissart’s Chronicles, had asked on his deathbed that his bones be carried in battle against the Scots (Bourchier 1812, 39-40). Of course it never happened; besides, the power of Columba was of a different order and was reckoned to be not of this world. Sculpture, too, served to glorify God and human patrons, as well as the memory of the saints. Iona was the scene of sculptural experiments in the 8th century and might well have been where the ringed cross first took shape. A cross erected at Kells in the 9th century (Fig. 6) is inscribed PATRICII ET COLUMBE CRUX, coupling the two great cults of early Ireland in one dedication and, significantly, putting Patrick first. This has been construed as a testament to accommodation between the cults of these major saints, but it might as easily express the subordination of Columba at a time (891-927) when an abbot of Armagh was also abbot of Kells and can be expected to have promoted his own. But how did the great display manuscripts and metalwork function in practical terms? They were scarcely for everyday use and must have called for places of safekeeping, places of restricted access to which, perhaps, pilgrims were admitted on payment of appropriate dues. There are hints of treasuries in early Irish churches and of officers whose job it was to man the door. The scrínire, ‘shrinekeeper’ and the fer tige saét, ‘treasurer’, both find mention, while the airdam, conventionally ‘sacristy’ (such as that from which the Book of Kells was stolen), and refugium, ‘strong room’, might have been their special concern. There are signs too that

such things as croziers and bells were accessories at saints’ tombs, sometimes as genuine relics, but sometimes as funerary trophies made expressly for the purpose and serving no utilitarian function. Round towers were treasuries on occasion, but this was scarcely their primary role. But neither is that role apparent – despite the name cloicthech, ‘bell house’, used of towers in contemporary sources. They might best be regarded as symbols simultaneously of mundane status and of the heavenward aspiration of Christian souls. Christian and Viking The coming of the Vikings is marked by a contemporary entry in the Annals of Ulster in 795, re-

Fig. 6. Tower Cross at Kells, Co. Meath. Photo © Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

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Cormac Bourke

Fig. 7. Mount from Sande, Sogn og Fjordane. Photo: Bergen Museum.

Fig. 8. Mount from Shanmullagh hoard. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.

cording raids on Skye and on Rathlin Island off Ireland’s north-eastern coast. Churches were to be favourite Viking targets for more than a hundred years, being centres of population and therefore a source of slaves. The annals reflect the horror of the churchmen at the depredations of pagans; they called them genti, ‘gentiles’ (i.e. not of God’s people), and gaill, ‘foreigners’. A raid on Iona is graphically recorded in 806 when sixty-eight of the community were killed. In 825 in a repeat attack the monk Bláthmacc was martyred for refusing to show where the shrine of Columba was concealed. This was no doubt a large sarcophagus, but the Breccbennach might well have been made en suite. Church metalwork and the Viking phenomenon come together in the form of a hoard recovered from the River Blackwater at Shanmullagh, Co Armagh, in the 1990s. This is a diverse collection, the stock-in-trade of a metalworker who met with misadventure on the river, and it offers insights into manufacturing, recycling and patterns of redistribution. Panels from shrines and bookcovers are reduced to small pieces, no bigger than postage stamps, for use in embellishing lead weights, and several such weights are included. Gilding has been carefully removed in one instance, confirming the preciousness of gold, and several pieces appear to be unfinished. The hoard is typical of the

Irish metalwork which so appealed to Viking taste, less for its bullion value (which was low) than for its intrinsic quality and exotic appeal, and similar pieces have come to light in Norway (Wamers 1985). One mount from the Shanmullagh hoard (Fig. 7), seemingly fresh from the mould, has a close counterpart amid Viking grave-goods from Sande, Sogn og Fjordane (Fig. 8); another (Fig. 9) compares with a mount from Eide, Møre og Romsdal (Fig. 10); yet another (Fig.11) with a piece from Tårland, Rogaland (Fig. 12). Moreover the hoard includes a hanging bowl of an Irish type which is almost unknown on Irish soil but well represented in Scandinavia. Thus the Blackwater metalworker had passing through his hands precisely the kind of material which the Vikings coveted. Even if not en route to Norway himself, he may have been in touch with those who were. Despite the Church’s view of their depredations it would be wrong to represent the Vikings as the sole law-breakers. The Irish themselves were wont to attack monasteries if an enemy could be discomfited, and the monasteries were accustomed to conflict. Clonmacnoise and Durrow maintained some form of militia, even if of lay tenants rather than monks. On a notorious occasion in 764, in the pre-Viking age, there was a battle in which 200 on the Durrow side were killed.

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A View of the Early Irish Church

Fig. 9. Mount from Eide, Møre og Romsdal. Photo: Bergen Museum.

Fig. 11. Mount from Tårland, Rogaland. Photo: Bergen Museum.

But traumatic acculturation led to assimilation, and the Vikings by dint of settlement and intermarriage were converted to Christianity and absorbed in the local scene. The process of conversion is exemplified in the case of Amlaíb (Óláfr)

Cúarán, the king of Viking Dublin, who ended his days in 980 on pilgrimage to Iona, the holy place his fore-fathers had sacked. Co-existence too is suggested by the survival, even the florescence, of churches in the vicinity of and within the Vi-

Fig. 10. Mount from Shanmullagh hoard. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.

Fig. 12. Mount from Shanmullagh hoard. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.

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Cormac Bourke

Fig. 13. Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary. Photo © Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

king towns. Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral (where once the Bachall Ísu was kept) was jointly founded in the 1030s by Sitriuc Silkbeard, son of Amlaíb Cúarán, and by the Irish bishop Dúnán. Reformation Irish Christianity, by definition, looked to Rome and the primacy of the eternal city was never in question. Pilgrims came home with the soil of Rome and with pieces of Roman porphyry taken from floors and walls. Controversy about the dating of Easter (never more than an academic dispute in the Church’s higher echelons) was resolved by the early 8th century when Iona finally conformed. A renewal of monastic values in the 8th and 9th centuries is associated with the Céli Dé, ‘servants of God’, whose prominence is due in part to the wealth of documents they generated. Best known are the Martyrology of Tallaght and the Martyrology of Oengus, two calendars of saints of the Irish and the universal Church. The Monastery of Tallaght, a commonplace book, and some more formal rules can be read in conjunction with the earlier penitentials to gain a picture of monastic life. Reform was in the air again in the 11th and 12th centuries, as shortcomings were perceived in Irish

ecclesiastical organization and in such matters as marital regulation. The Ua Briain kings of Munster sought advice in Canterbury and a papal legate, Bishop Gilbert of Limerick, was for the first time appointed. Synods set up dioceses within a hierarchical structure and confirmed the primacy of Armagh. In a grand imperial gesture in 1101 the Ua Briain king gifted the royal site of Cashel (Fig. 13) to the Church, although the kings based there (of a rival dynasty) had sometimes been bishops themselves. Malachy (Máel Máedóc), sometime archbishop of Armagh and friend of the Cistercian Bernard of Clairvaux, introduced Continental monastic observances. These europeanizing and reforming trends were expressed in architecture – in a style termed Hiberno-Romanesque – and kings were often patrons. Among the earliest and finest examples is the chapel built at Cashel at the behest of Cormac Mac Carthaig (likewise a friend to Malachy), which was consecrated in 1134. It is a coincidence, but a telling one, that a crozier found at Cashel, apparently in a tomb, is an early 13th-century product of Limoges – an apt token of the decline of the native artistic tradition which was to characterize the later middle ages.

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Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period Raghnall Ó Floinn

Introduction Although separated by a large expanse of water, with Britain lying between them, Ireland and Scandinavia share a number of features in common. Both (with the exception of Jutland) are separated from the mainland of Europe by sea and both lay outside the extent of the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the first millennium AD. At the dawn of the Viking Age, therefore, neither had the inheritance of a system of roads, towns, buildings and an administration which was a feature of Roman provinces such as Britannia or Germania. For both Irish and Scandinavian craftsmen, therefore, their knowledge of the art of the Late Antique world was primarily acquired through objects imported either as loot or by trade, gift and exchange. This is not to deny, however, that both areas engaged either directly or indirectly with the Empire and were influenced by it. There were striking differences also: the Irish were Celtic-speaking while in Scandinavia the Germanic language took root; the pagan Vikings who first appeared off the Irish coast in 795 encountered a country which had been Christianised for centuries. There is no convincing evidence for any direct contacts between Ireland and Scandinavia before these first recorded raids, yet there are great similarities in ornament, especially in metalwork, between the two regions at the dawn of the Viking Age. Animal ornament was predominant in the art of both regions owing to a shared ancestry through Germanic art of Continental Europe

which was derived ultimately from the art of the Late Roman Empire. In the case of Ireland, many of these Germanic elements were introduced through Anglo-Saxon Britain and indeed throughout the Viking Age many of the reciprocal influences on the art of the two regions were mediated through Britain. Insular metalwork in Viking hands ‘There was a naval camp at Linn Duachaill from which the peoples and churches of Tethba [a neighbouring midland Irish kingdom] were plundered’. Thus, in a typically laconic entry, the Irish chronicle, the Annals of Ulster, records under the year 841 the establishment of the first temporary Viking encampment in Ireland (MacAirt & Mac Niocaill 1983, 298). The same entry also mentions the establishment of a second base at Dublin. These naval bases were established after almost half a decade of Viking activity in Ireland which had been characterised by hit-and-run activity. They mark the first attempts at permanent Viking settlements in Ireland and it is only from this period that we can expect to find firm archaeological evidence of a Scandinavian presence in Ireland. The site of the base at Linn Duachaill can be identified with Annagassen, located on the east coast of Ireland, some 60 km north of Dublin. A cliff fort overlooking the River Glyde may mark the location of the base and an early monastic site located less than half a kilometre to the north-east may also have formed part of this settlement (Buckley & 87

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Raghnall Ó Floinn

Fig. 1. Two decorated copper alloy mounts found at Linns, Co. Louth, close to the Viking base of Annagassan. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

Sweetman 1991, nos. 259 and 947). The recent discovery of two decorated mounts from a field near the church site (Fig. 1) may well represent broken up pieces of ecclesiastical objects looted from a neighbouring church treasury which were destined to be refashioned into brooches which were so popular among the Vikings. The first point of departure in any discussion of the reciprocal influences of Irish and Viking art styles must be the 9th- and 10th-century pagan Viking grave finds in Scandinavia and Ireland containing imported grave goods. Finds of decorated Insular metalwork in pagan Viking graves in Scandinavia – now to be numbered in the low hundreds (Wamers 1985 lists over 300; see also Wamers 1998, 48-51 for new finds) – represent the largest single body of archaeological evidence for the Viking raids on Britain and Ireland. The earliest of these grave finds are dated to c. 800, that is, within a few short years of the first recorded raids in the West. The distribution of these early graves, incidentally, allows us to speculate that the first raiders to Ireland came from an area of western Norway centred on Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal (Wamers 1998, fig. 2.5).

The majority of Insular finds from Viking graves consist of fragments of ecclesiastical and secular objects which had been converted for use as brooches by the addition of a fastening pin. The overwhelming majority were deposited in female graves where they sometimes occur as a ‘third brooch’, that is, as an addition to a pair of oval brooches. Where and by whom these pieces were converted for use as dress fasteners is still unclear. There is now some evidence that the raw materials were assembled in Ireland. A collection of over one hundred such pieces of decorated metal objects, which also included silver armrings and finger rings of Hiberno-Viking type, was recovered from the River Blackwater at Shanmullagh, some 8 km north-west of the monastery of Armagh. It was presumably lost overboard and has been plausibly interpreted as ‘the stock-in-trade of a Hiberno-Viking metalworker’ intended for recycling (C. Bourke 1993, 24-39). It is not surprising that decorated Insular objects would find favour as pieces of jewellery to be worn by Viking women. From the late Roman Iron Age flat, rectangular brooches of cast gilt bronze with ‘chip-carved’ decoration of interlaced

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Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period animals were produced by Scandinavian craftsmen as were also harness mounts bearing similar decoration (Wilson & Klindt-Jensen 1966, Pls IIb, IVa, XXI-XXII). Many of the reused Irish mounts are also of gilt bronze with cast ‘chip-carved’ interlace ornament and would therefore, at a distance, look remarkably similar to Viking 8th-century jewellery. Despite their use in large numbers as dress ornaments, it has been noted ‘that the mounts which came from the British Isles and are found in 9th-century graves in Norway were never copied in Scandinavian workshops, nor did they influence the development of style in Scandinavia’ (Fuglesang 1992, 176). This may be partly explained by the fact that such Insular imports arrived in Scandinavia as loot rather than trade. Comparatively few have been found at trading settlements such as Hedeby, Kaupang, Birka and Helgö where the major metalworking workshops would have been located (Wamers 1998, 45). Furthermore, their conversion into dress fasteners is often crudely done and therefore unlikely to have been undertaken by skilled metalworkers. Complete dress fasteners in the form of ringed pins and ring brooches (called penannular brooches) are also known from Viking graves. Although some come from female burials, most are from men’s graves. Scandinavian craftsmen copied these forms – several hundred examples are known – but their ornament remained in the native tradition (Wamers 1998, 38; Graham-Campbell 1987a). Of all the Western brooch types, it was the Irish silver ‘thistle’ brooch which was copied in large numbers in Scandinavia. This appears not to have occurred before the 10th century. These Norse copies tend to be smaller in size and simpler than their Irish analogues and are mainly of tinned bronze rather than silver. They were particularly widespread in Norway where some seventy examples are known (Graham-Campbell 1987a, 2389). The finest Scandinavian example is a large silver brooch ornamented with gold filigree and granulation found at Møllerløkken in Fyn, Denmark

(Graham-Campbell 1980, no. 198). The other form of Irish dress ornament which occurs in Scandinavian graves and settlements is the ringed pin and a distinctive Scandinavian variant was also current in the 10th century (Fanning 1994, 19-21). This widespread copying of Insular dress fasteners indicates that Scandinavian (especially Norwegian) men may have adopted elements of Insular dress fashion. Scandinavian objects in Early Viking Age Ireland It was believed that the impact of the Viking raids on Irish art was catastrophic, particularly in monasteries which were centres of artistic production (F. Henry 1970, 17-18; 1975, 61-63). But recent archaeological and historical research has shown that this is an oversimplified picture. The apparent decline in quality which occurred in metalwork between the 8th and 9th centuries is a case in point. The abandonment of the polychrome effect in metalwork and the increased use of silver to produce plainer brooches can now be seen as responses to changes in Anglo-Saxon metalworking traditions rather than as direct consequences of the effects of the Viking incursions (GrahamCampbell 1972). A much more restricted range of decorated objects of Scandinavian origin, principally in the form of oval brooches and swords with elaborate hilts, are known from Viking graves in Ireland, and they are far less in number than the Insular finds found in Scandinavia (Bøe 1940; Harrison, this volume). These imported Scandinavian ornaments of the 9th and early 10th centuries appear to have had no impact on Irish artists. It was thought that imported oval brooches influenced the development of Irish silver bossed penannular brooches current in the 9th and early 10th centuries but it is now believed that Anglo-Saxon disc brooches were the source for their layout and design (Graham-Campbell 1975). While decorated Insular objects circulated widely and were used by the peoples of Scandinavia, the decorated Scandina89

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Raghnall Ó Floinn vian imports in Ireland are mainly found in the graves of the Scandinavian settlers and there are few stray finds. It is unlikely that they found their way into Irish hands in any significant quantities. Contemporary Scandinavian taste in silver jewellery did have a limited influence in Ireland but its production would appear to have been restricted to Hiberno-Viking craftsmen based in the emerging coastal towns. Alongside the native tradition of bossed and ‘thistle’ penannular brooches, there developed in Ireland in the period c. 850 to c. 950 a fashion for a variety of silver armring types produced in a Hiberno-Viking milieu, probably centred on Dublin. Derived from Danish and Norwegian prototypes, their form and stamped geometric ornament distinguish them from Irish metalwork of the period (Sheehan 1998a). Although many of these ornaments passed into Irish hands, there is little evidence of any significant impact on the Irish metalworking tradition and it is likely that they were regarded primarily as a form of bullion rather than as personal ornaments. One exception is the openwork silver bossed penannular brooch from a Viking grave on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim (Fig. 2). Although its form

Fig. 2. Silver bossed penannular brooch from a Viking grave at Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

is in the native Irish tradition, its filigree bosses and stamped ornament show the influence of contemporary Scandinavian jewellery. Apart from the metalwork represented in pagan Viking graves and the single finds and hoards of silver ornaments we do not, however, have any excavated evidence of Viking settlements before the second quarter of the 10th century which have produced decorated artefacts. A ship’s prow decorated in the style of the Oseberg ship was found reused as a threshold in an early 10th-century house in Dublin and is a unique survival of early Viking Age art in Ireland. Its discovery reminds us that there must have been a considerable number of organic objects bearing Scandinavian decoration circulating in Ireland from the 9th century (Lang 1988, 9, fig. 11). 10th-century sculpture in wood and stone Only two imported Scandinavian brooches – a disc brooch and an openwork lozenge brooch – are known from settlement sites in Ireland (GrahamCampbell 1987b, 151). Both are from 10th-century deposits in Dublin but there is no evidence that these brooch types were made or copied in Ireland. The first clear indication of the adoption of motifs from Scandinavian art in Ireland occurs in the 10th century but even then it is limited and there is uncertainty as to whether such borrowings were direct or mediated through England or the Isle of Man. The ring-chain motif characteristic of the Borre style, for example, occurs in metalwork, motif-pieces and wood carving in Ireland not in its pure Scandinavian form but rather in the ‘vertebral’ form found on Viking-influenced sculpture on the Isle of Man (Graham-Campbell 1987b, 150). The Dublin excavations have yielded a large number of decorated wooden artefacts in a distinctive style which has been termed ‘colonial Viking’ but which is now called ‘West Viking’ (Lang 1988, 10-17). Found over a wide area which includes Ireland and the Irish Sea area (most notably the Isle of Man and Cumbria) as well as York, this

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Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period

Fig. 3. Decorated wooden box, Christchurch Place, Dublin. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

reflects the complex political and economic links on the Dublin-York axis during the 10th century. It is characterised by densely-packed interlace which has a good Insular pedigree as well as ringchain and ringed knot patterns ultimately inspired by the Scandinavian Borre style. The universal use of interlace, sometimes in combination with geometric fret patterns, indicates however that the influence of Insular art was predominant (Fig. 3). One of the features which distinguishes Irish 10th-century sculpture from that of the Isle of Man, Wales, northern England and Scotland is the total absence of any Scandinavian motifs in its composition. This is due in some measure to the fact that sculpture, whether in the form of free-standing crosses or grave-slabs, is virtually unknown from the Norse towns of Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick. Why this should be the case is as yet unclear but the absence of a tradition of stone sculpture at these locations in the immediate preViking period must have been a major factor. This contrasts with Cumbria and York, for example, which both had pre-Viking traditions of sculpture. Unlike Ireland, these areas along with the Isle of Man and, to a lesser extent Wales, developed a Christian sculptural tradition which included, along with limited motifs from Scandinavian art, elements from pagan mythology. A distinctive group of grave covers, decorated with cupmarks, concentric circles, herring-bone patterns and parallel lines from the Rathdown area of counties Dublin and Wicklow is regarded as being associated with the Hiberno-Scandinavian inhabitants of this part of the hinterland of Dublin (Ó hÉalaidhe

1957; Bradley 1988, 60). Although difficult to date, these are most likely to be dated to the 11th and 12th centuries. There is however no trace of any influence from contemporary Scandinavian art in the decoration of these monuments. Two Irish 10th-century sculptures stand out as rare examples of the influence of Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture – a hogback tomb from Castledermot, Co. Kildare and the shaft of a cross from Killaloe, Co. Clare. The hogback is the only known Irish example of this monument type. Its simple, rounded form and restrained decoration differs markedly from the main series of Anglo-Scandinavian hogbacks of northern Britain. It must be considered as a local product commissioned by a Hiberno-Norse patron and Lang (1986, 252) has noted other similarities between the sculpture at Castledermot and that of northern England. A Hiberno-Viking craftsman, Thorgrim, carved the Killaloe cross-shaft and his name occurs twice, once in Irish Ogham, the other in Runic script. It is worth noting that Killaloe lies only 20 km upriver from the Hiberno-Viking town of Limerick. The crudely carved figure of the Crucified Christ finds its closest parallel on a hogback at Gosforth, Cumbria, in northern England (Bailey 1980, Ills. 330331). This must surely argue for a date in the 10th century, rather than the 11th or 12th as previously suggested (Harbison 1993, 363). The influence of Irish sculpture on the stone monuments of northwestern England has long been recognised and Irish influences have been already noted at Gosforth, ‘a site whose monuments are particularly Norse-Irish’ (Lang 1987, 174). These are but isolated instances, however, and Irish sculpture, metalwork and manuscript illumination of the 9th and 10th century exhibit few Scandinavian traits. Late Viking Age influences It is only in the 11th century that Scandinavian art styles make any serious impact on Ireland. Much new evidence has come from the excavations of the Hiberno-Viking town of Dublin. The import91

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Raghnall Ó Floinn

Fig. 4. Bone motif-piece, High Street, Dublin. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

ance of Dublin in the assimilation and transmission of late Viking art styles has been recognised since the excavations of the Viking town began in the 1960s and in particular with the discovery there of a large number of decorated motif-pieces of bone and stone. These motif-pieces, used by craftsmen to practice and lay out designs, bear interlace and geometric patterns commonly found on contemporary Irish metalwork, sculpture and manuscript illumination. A small number are carved with decorated patterns which can be related to late Scandinavian art styles. One bone motif-piece from High Street bears a pattern so well

finished that it may even have been used for impressing a wax model from which a metal mount was cast (Fig. 4). Its design of interlinked figureof-eight shaped animals with foliate tendrils is clearly derived from the late Viking Age Ringerike and Urnes styles and may be closely paralleled on the side panels of an Irish book shrine – the Shrine of the Cathach (Fig. 5). The latter bears an inscription enabling it to be dated to between 1062 and 1094. The inscription also bears the name of its Irish maker Sitric mac Meic Aeda – a name form which suggests that he may have been of mixed Irish-Norse origin. The Shrine of the Cath-

Fig. 5. Side panel of the Shrine of the Cathach. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

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Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period

Fig. 6. Wooden crook, Fishamble Street, Dublin. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

ach belongs to a group of objects, primarily reliquaries, but also including manuscripts of late 11thand early 12th-century date, which are associated with the north and east of Ireland. It has been noted that it is among these objects that the strongest Scandinavian art influences can be seen and it is likely that such influence came through Dublin (Fuglesang 1980, 54; Ó Floinn 1987, 180-1). The effects of late Viking art styles in Ireland have been well-rehearsed (Wilson & KlindtJensen 1966, 143-5, 155-60; F. Henry 1970, 198205; Farnes 1975; Fuglesang 1980, 51-4; Graham-Campbell 1987b, 151; O’Meadhra 1987a; Lang 1988). Much remains to be done in understanding the complex relationships between Irish, Anglo-Scandinavian and native Scandinavian renditions of the Ringerike and Urnes styles. Advances have recently been made on two fronts: through the study of a range of decorated wooden objects from 10th- and 11th century levels in Dublin and

the discovery of new finds from recent excavations at other Hiberno-Viking towns such as Waterford, Wexford and Cork. Based on the evidence of metalwork dated by inscriptions, it was until recently believed that the Ringerike style did not emerge in Ireland until the mid 11th century (Fuglesang 1980, 51-4). The study of decorated wood from securely dated levels has now shown that elements of the Ringerike style were, in fact, being adapted by craftsmen in Dublin from the early years of the 11th century, much earlier than previously thought (Lang 1988, 18, 46). Most of the Dublin decorated wood defies categorisation into the accepted late Viking art styles. Of the 150 pieces found, only three were considered of pure Ringerike style and even then their elements were seen to have been filtered through southern England (ibid, 48). The finest pieces of decorated wood belong to a distinctive ‘Dublin School’ characterised by animal heads with elaborate tightly interlaced head crests, the strands placed adjacent and parallel (Fig. 6). The use of foliate tendrils and forward-pointing eye are characteristic of Scandinavian Ringerike but the disciplined layout stems from earlier, Insular models. A somewhat less rigid treatment of Ringerike forms occurs on the crook of the Clonmacnoise Crozier although this object also betrays elements of the Urnes style and it also probably owes its inspiration to the Dublin school of woodcarving (Fig. 7). For some reason, Ringerike-style elements

Fig. 7. Drawing of decoration on the crook of the Clonmacnoise Crozier.

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Raghnall Ă“ Floinn

Fig. 8. Detail of decorated panel on the Cross of Cong. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

do not seem to have been carried over into the Irish sculptors’ repertoire, unlike the later Urnes style. As with the Ringerike style Irish adaptations of the Urnes style show the same tendency to discipline, balance and symmetrically arranged elements which in Scandinavia are looser. The evidence from inscriptions and decorated wood both suggest the introduction of elements of the style to Ireland towards the end of the 11th century (Wilson & Klindt-Jensen 1966, 155-7; Lang 1988, 47), making the earliest Irish Urnes pieces contemporary with the late Urnes/Romanesque phase in Scandinavia. The asymmetrically laid out interplay between great beast and thin serpents so characteristic of the Scandinavian style is replaced by

an arrangement in disciplined curving figure-ofeight patterns arranged diagonally about a central crossing point (Fig. 8). The bodies of the animals are of even width which imparts an abstract quality to the composition. This style became equally popular in stone and in metalwork and includes some of the finest pieces of ecclesiastical metalwork and sculpture of the 12th century. From the evidence available from dateable inscriptions it would appear that Urnes-style motifs first appeared in metalwork, continuing until the mid 12th century. Sculpture and manuscript illumination showing Urnes-style elements appear somewhat later, from the early years of the 12th century. The style was so popular in sculpture that it survived well into the Romanesque period.

94 The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Irish and Scandinavian Art in the Early Medieval Period While most of the material bearing late Viking art style motifs is ecclesiastical, there is a growing body of secular objects in the same style. Among these are a pommel and cross-guard of a sword, the former decorated with Urnes style interlaced wire-like snakes (Bøe 1940, 92-93 and fig. 62); a number of drinking horn terminals (Ó Floinn 1987, fig. 2e) and a complete sword with inlaid interlaced beasts from Lough Derg, Co. Tipperary (Roesdahl & Wilson 1992, no. 431). In this connection, it is worthwhile noting O’Meadhra’s (1994) identification of a motif-piece design from Winetavern Street, Dublin which is paralleled in late Viking silver-coated sword hilts from the Baltic, indicating the manufacture of decorated sword fittings with late Viking designs in 11th and 12th century Dublin. Further evidence for the manufacture of sword fittings in late Viking style comes from an unfinished casting, perhaps a sword mount, from Christchurch Place, Dublin which is decorated with Ringerike-style foliage (O’Meadhra 1987b, fig. 33a). Discussion of the transmission of these late Viking styles has been biased in favour of Dublin due to its wealth of excavation evidence. However, the presence of workshops in the major monasteries and in the other Hiberno-Norse towns must not be overlooked. It has been noted that two Irish versions of the Urnes style represented by the Cross of Cong/St Manchan’s Shrine and St Lachtin’s Arm are not represented among the Dublin corpus of motif-pieces and that ‘This perhaps indicates that these stylistic versions were restricted to schools that were not in touch with Dublin, for political or geographical reasons’ (O’Meadhra 1987a, 163). Secular workshops are indicated by occasional finds of motif-pieces. A bone example with Hiberno-Norse foliage from Shandon, Co. Waterford (Fig. 9) may come from a Hiberno-Norse settlement in the hinterland of Waterford (M. Ryan et al 1983, no. 71; O’Meadhra 1997, 702). An early 19th century find of a stone motif-piece at Kill-

Fig. 9. Bone motif piece, Shandon, Co. Waterford. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

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Raghnall Ó Floinn

Fig. 10. Bone pinhead, Bride Street, Wexford (after E. Bourke 1988-89).

aloe, Co. Clare, not far from the town of Limerick (Graham-Campbell 1980, no. 478) is carved with an interlaced animal which has features of Urnes style mounts from England and Denmark (O’Meadhra 1987a, 162). A polished bone pendant or pinhead from Bride Street, Wexford (Fig. 10) is decorated with a knotted interlaced plant scroll with Ringerike affinities (E. Bourke 198889, 58 and fig. 4). More recently, a number of motif-pieces from 11th and 12th century contexts in Waterford (Fig. 11) have come to light. Some of these betray the same mixture of Hiberno-Norse and Irish elements seen on the Dublin motifpieces (O’Meadhra 1997). The interlace pattern of one of the Waterford motif-pieces is paralleled on two Anglo-Scandinavian finds from London, again suggesting links with southern England. Finally, a single bone motif-piece from Cork (Fig. 12) is decorated with an incomplete animal interlace pattern reminiscent of Urnes style beasts found on Irish metalwork of the 12th century (M. O’Brien 1993, 42). Summary and conclusions In summarising the reciprocal influences of Irish and Scandinavian art there would appear to have been some mutual borrowing of forms in the early Viking Age. In the 10th century there is evidence of restricted borrowings of a few Scandinavian motifs, though Ireland did not absorb anything like the same range of motifs (including figured

scenes inspired by Norse mythology) as her Manx and Cumbrian neighbours. This must have something to do with the early Christianisation of the Scandinavian settlers in Ireland and also the fact that they were probably fewer in number, particularly outside the towns. Only from the early 11th century do Scandinavian art influences have any appreciable effect. Even still, there are few pure expressions of late Viking art styles and it would appear rather that Scandinavian elements were reworked in the Irish idiom to suit local tastes. Many of these elements seem to have arrived indirectly through southern England. The particular popularity of Urnes elements in ecclesiastical circles, in metalwork, sculpture and manuscript illum-

Fig. 11. Bone motif-pieces, Waterford (after O’Meadhra 1997).

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Fig. 12. Bone motif-piece, Barrack Street, Cork (after M. O’Brien 1993).

ination, suggests that links between the churches in the Hiberno-Viking towns with England (and with Canterbury in particular) played a key role in their transmission. Acknowledgements I am grateful to Mr Edward Bourke, Dúchas The Heritage Service; Mr Maurice Hurley, Cork Corporation and Madeleine O’Brien, University College, Galway for permission to use the illustrations in Figs 10-12 respectively.

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The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

The Vikings in Medieval Irish Literature (1)

Máire Ní Mhaonaigh

On their arrival in Ireland, the Vikings came into contact with a society which had been Christian for over three hundred and fifty years and with a highly literate culture whose focal point was provided by ecclesiastical centres of learning scattered throughout the country. Since monasteries bore the brunt of the early Viking attacks, we might expect some at least of their literate inhabitants to have penned their initial impressions of the invaders. And so they did. In one well-known stanza written on the margin of a 9th-century manuscript, the Codex Sangallensis 904, the poet rejoices in the stormy sea which will preserve him from attacks by fierce Viking warriors (Stokes & Strachan 1901-03, vol. 2, 290): Is acher in ga th innocht fu-f asna fairrg findfholt; n gor r imm mora minn dond l echraid lainn ua Lothlind. Bitter is the wind tonight, it tosses the white-waved sea, I do not fear the coursing of the great sea by the fierce warriors from Lochlainn.

This undoubtedly contemporary fear is echoed by another ecclesiastic attached perhaps to the monastery of Clondalkin, Co. Dublin who compiled a service book in the same period. Only fragments of this work survive completely by chance in the

binding of another manuscript known as the Carlsruhe Bede, but the sentiments are familiar as the writer at one point prays to be saved di thólu æchtrann et námat et geinte ‘from a flood of foreigners, enemies and pagans’ (Stokes & Strachan, 1901-03, vol. 2, 256), all amounting to one and the same thing – Vikings. In addition to emphasising their heathen nature, 9th-century sources further highlight the role of the Vikings as plunderers. The Milan glossator, for example, when commenting on the biblical notion of sharing remarks, amal dundgniat geinti dinaib brataib bertae hodie ‘as the heathens do with the spoils they carry off today’ (Stokes & Strachan 1901-03, vol. 1, 214, Ml. 63c18). As the Vikings are frequently referred to as gennti ‘heathens, pagans’ in contemporary chronicles, this statement must have called them to mind. That their plundering was repeated is suggested by references such as one in the possibly 9th-century text, Epistil Ísu ‘The Epistle of Jesus’, which states that of three wishes granted to Conall mac Cóelmaine, abbot of the island monastery of Inis Cóel in Co. Donegal, one was that foreigners (allmaraig) should attack his church no more than once (O’Keeffe 1905, 202, §20). The same text specifies elsewhere what exactly plunder might entail when God, in response to the people’s failure to keep Sunday holy, is made to prophesy (O’Keeffe 1905, 196197, §10): 99

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Máire Ní Mhaonaigh … dobicfat gennti am-si …. i. cen l na pag n nobb rat i mbrataib as bar t rib atobop rat dia ndeeb fesne. … heathens shall come to you from me … i.e. a race of pagans who will carry you into bondage from your own lands and will offer you up to their own gods.

Nonetheless, in Cáin Domnaig ‘The Law of Sunday’, a text always found in conjunction with Epistil Ísu, fleeing from Vikings is given as one of the few accepted reasons for transgression of the Sabbath (O’Keeffe 1905, 208-209, §32). Considering that the author of ‘The Monastery of Tallaght’, writing in the 830s, indicates that Vikings were known to force fasting monks to consume meat (Gwynn & Purton 1911-12, 146), non-observance of the Sabbath may have been seen as the lesser of two evils. These 9th-century references to Vikings as plunderers are very much in keeping with the annalistic record of the day which portrays the Norse at the end of the 8th and in the early 9th century as engaging in swift, sharp attacks on rich, ecclesiastical centres for the most part. Not surprisingly, therefore, texts emanating from such centres at this period reflect this fact. Furthermore, attempts were made to account for the attacks. In Epistil Ísu, as we have seen, the coming of the gennti is attributed to a lack of reverence for Sunday on the part of the Irish couched in prophetic terms. In Immram Snédgusa ocus Maic Riagla ‘The Voyage of Snédgus and Mac Riagla’, the poetic part of which may be of 9th- or 10th-century date, it is claimed that on account of the evil deeds of the Irish and their disdain for God’s law, men in ships and pagan warriors with spears will invade them (van Hamel, 1941, 92): Fir i llongaib, l echrad co nga b, cen chuit irse, bid m r in phl g, trebait co lleth l r na hinnse … Men in ships, warriors with spears, without any faith, great will be the plague, they will inhabit half the surface of the island …

Such prophecies continued to be composed, however, long after the Vikings ceased to be a threat. As late as the end of the 11th century, in a text entitled Fís Adomnáin ‘Admonán’s Second Vision’, the author foretells the coming of plagues and heathens, the latter a reference to Vikings (Stokes 1891, 426-7): … gennti na rochretset cid itir co n-aicned demna hi corpaib na ndo ne sin do thidecht dia n-innrud iarsin. … heathens who have never believed, with a devil’s nature in the bodies of those men, to come and invade them then.

Once more, the Irish have only themselves to blame for such evil portents, ar rolensat fir Érenn in gentlidecht doridisi ‘since the men of Ireland once again followed paganism’ (Stokes 1891, 430-1). All is not lost, however, since they can undertake a three-day fast in atonement for their wrongs and to prevent fulfilment of the prophecy, in emulation of Moses who by fasting and praying brought about defeat of earlier heathens (Stokes 1891, 434-435). It would appear, therefore, that long after the Viking threat had become a thing of the past, heathen invaders were employed as a symbol of the calamity which ensued from sustained spiritual decadence and moral failings. Though the Vikings had long since settled into living with their Irish neighbours, clerical redactors were still capable of using them as a stick with which to beat their faithful into mending their ways. What gave such warnings the sanction of authority was that prophecies put into the mouths of earlier notable ecclesiastics and preserved in a number of 11th- and 12th-century texts, had to all intents and purposes come true. In a poem of prophecies attributed to Bec mac Dé, for example, we read of St Ciarán of Saigir (Knott 1958, 60-61): … budh gell d’ rinn guma thr dama Danar dubhloingsi.

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The Vikings in Medieval Irish Literature … he foretold to Ireland that three times fleets of black Danes should visit her.

Elsewhere in the poem, it is foretold that their like will come again (Knott 1958, 70-1): Claidfiter durthigi D loisgfidhir na heaglaise; fir (go nga b) duba diana, coillfidh suba saerriagla. They will tunnel beneath God’s oratories; churches will be burned; men with black, keen spears will blight the fruits of noble rule.

Another alleged prophet, Berchán, in what may be an 11th-century poem, similarly warns of approaching gennti who will infiltrate, not only every church, but every kingdom as well (Anderson 1929, 1213): Ticfaid geinnte tar muir mall, mesgfuid for fheraibh ireann; biadh uadhaibh ab ar gach cill, biadh uadhaibh r ghe for irinn. Vikings will come across the sea, they will mingle among the men of Ireland, there will be an abbot from among them over every church, one from among them will assume the kingship of Ireland.

Long cultivated in Irish literature, therefore, was the notion of heathen, plundering Vikings hovering in the Irish Sea waiting to invade should the balance of social and moral ills tip in their favour. Moreover, it was this inherited perception which the authors of a number of 11th- and 12th-century pseudo-historical tracts turned to their advantage. For in texts such as the ‘Fragmentary Annals of Ireland’ (Radner 1978), Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh ‘The War of the Irish against the Foreigners’ (Todd 1867) and Caithréim Chellacháin Chaisil ‘The Triumph of Cellachán of Cashel’ (Bugge 1905) the Vikings appear once more as the oppressors of

the Irish and the cause of all ills. In these instances, however, the author’s real aim was to glorify the ancestors of particular Irish dynasties and portraying their heroes as triumphant over a fierce and deadly foe was essential to the process. In the ‘Fragmentary Annals’, a text written for the Meic Gilla Phátraic dynasty in the mid 11th century, the hero of the day is their ancestor, Cerball mac Dúnlainge, king of Osraige, who on one occasion manages to defeat an army of Norwegians despite having been drunk the night before (Radner 1978, 108-109, no. 277). Interestingly, however, despite portraying Cerball consistently as triumphing over the Gaill (foreigners), the redactor differentiates between Danair (Danes) and Lochlannaig (Norwegians) and realistically depicts them battling against one another from time to time (e.g. Radner 1978, 90-95, no. 235). The foreigners are presented as a far more unified force in Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh which relates how Brian Bórama succeeded in overcoming a Viking force about whose ferocious activities it was previously claimed (Todd 1867, 42-43): Cidh tra acht go nairimthior gainemh mara, no fer for faithce, no rettlanda nimhe, ni husa a tuiriomh, no a airemh, no a innisin, in ro fhodhaimsiot Gaoidhil uile co coitchionn, itir fioru ocus mna, itir maca ocus inghena, ocus laocha ocus cleirchiu, etir saera ocus daera, etir sena ocus cca, do th r ocus do tharchaissi, do dochar, ocus d’eccomhnart uaithibh. In short, until the sand of the sea, or the grass of the field, or the stars of heaven are counted, it is not easy to recount, or to enumerate, or to relate what all the Irish, both men and women, sons and daughters, heroes and clerics, free and unfree, young and old, suffered of insult and outrage, injury and oppression at their hands.

That Brian did in fact manage to defeat this mighty foe naturally reflected well on his descendants, the powerful Uí Briain dynasty and in particular on his great-grandson, Muirchertach Ua Briain (died 1119), for whom the text was first written (Ní 101

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Máire Ní Mhaonaigh Mhaonaigh 1995). In reality, however, Brian’s dealings with the Vikings were more complex that the black and white picture presented to us in the Cogadh would suggest. He entered into military alliances with them on a number of occasions (e.g. Mac Airt 1951, 164165, s.a. 984). Furthermore, the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, hailed as Brian’s great victory over a foreign foe, was in fact an attempt by him to subdue the Leinstermen and their Norse allies who were threatening his dominance in the southern part of the country. In addition, Brian’s daughter was married to Sitriuc Silkenbeard (Sigtryggr Silkiskegg), king of Dublin (Todd 1867, 192-193). Nor was there anything unusual in this. Indeed by the time Brian was at the height of his powers in the second half of the 10th century, the Vikings had been entering into both military and marital alliances with the Irish for well over a hundred years. As early as 842, the abbot of Linn Duachaill, Anagassan Co. Louth, was wounded and burned by an alliance of Irish and Norse (Mac Airt & Mac Niocaill 1983, 300-301). The daughter of Áed Finnliath of the Northern Uí Néill may have been married to Amlaíb (Óláfr) king of Dublin in the second half of the 9th century (Radner 1978, 112113, no. 292). As might be expected, such friendly relations are also reflected in the literary sources. A stanza addressed to Amlaíb archingid … dagrí Dublindi ‘Amlaíb, champion, … good king of Dublin’ has survived in a Middle Irish metrical tract (Meyer 1919, 13). If this is in praise of the 9th-century king, Amlaíb, it provides us with striking evidence for the speed with which Vikings became part and parcel of the Irish political and literary scene. Fresh waves of invaders arrived in the early 10th century from England and the Continent rather than directly from Scandinavia and caused considerable disruption for a period. Indeed as late as the last decade of the 10th century, a Leinster king, Murchad, who defeated a Norse chieftain, Ragnall (Ragnvaldr) is celebrated in a poem, as his

predecessors were, for having routed the heathen hordes as far as the Boyne (Meyer 1911, 75). This poem stands in contrast to other 10th-century sources, however, which indicate that the new waves of invaders were soon treated as any other hostile group from within. One poem of possibly 10thcentury date known as the ‘March Roll of the Men of Leinster’, for example, instructs the Leinstermen how to act in the event of various groups invading their territory. Putative invaders include the men of the Munster territories of Desmumu and Tuadmumu, the men of Connachta, the men belonging in the northern groups of Clanna Conaill and Clanna Éogain and forlunn echtrann ‘hordes of foreigners’. And even though these gennti are portrayed as coming dar glasa in mara móir ‘across the great blue sea’, they are deserving of no special treatment on that account (Meyer 1912). More striking perhaps is the evidence of a Welshman who penned his Armes Prydein Vawr ‘Great Prophecy of Britain’ in the 960s. In this text, both the Irish (Gwydyl Iwerddon ‘the Irish of Ireland’) and the Norse of Dublin (gwyr Dulyn ‘the men of Dublin’, gynhon Dulyn ‘the heathens of Dublin’) are called upon to come to the aid of the Welsh against the Saxons (Williams 1972, 2-3, 10-11, 1213). The confidence of the author is justified considering the widespread references to Norse-Irish alliances in the 10th-century annalistic record. In 947, for example, Ruaidrí ua Canannáin of the Cenél Conaill, led a host to Slane and defeated the combined armies of Congalach mac Maíle Mithig of the Southern Uí Néill and Amlaíb Cuarán of Dublin (Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill 1983, 392393). This Amlaíb, as well as acquiring an Irish nickname (cuarán ‘sandal’), was married to two Irish women and gave his children Irish names. Moreover, in good Irish fashion he retired to Iona in 981 (Duffy 1992, 95-6, n. 10). In addition, he commissioned at least one poem from one of the foremost Irish poets of the day, Cináed ua hArtacáin, one stanza of which reads as follows (Gwynn 1903, 52-53):

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The Vikings in Medieval Irish Literature Amlaib tha Cliath c taig ro gab r gi i mBeind tair; tallus l ag mo d ane de, ech d’echaib na Aichle. Amla b of th Cliath the hundred-strong who gained the kingship in Bend tair; I bore off from him as the price of my song, a horse of the horses of Achall.

Nor was Cináed the only Irish poet to avail himself of Norse patronage. According to an episode anachronistically related of the 8th-century poet, Rumann mac Colmáin, however, not all Norse patrons were as forthcoming as Amlaíb Cuarán. ‘Rumann’, we are told, composed a great poem for the foreigners of Dublin who initially failed to reward him adequately for his task. Under threat of satire, all reluctantly agreed to pay him the two pennies demanded of every good Viking and requested another poem in praise of the sea in return (Meyer 1900-01, 79-80). The scene is reminiscent of many an altercation between poet and Irish patron and it is nowhere intimated that it is their foreignness that causes the Vikings to withhold sufficient payment. Moreover, just as patrons were treated equally, whatever their ethnic affiliations, so too are the Dublin Norse and their Leinster neighbours in an 11th-century account of royal rights and privileges, Lebor na Cert ‘The Book of Rights’. The foreigners may owe their overking rent of ‘seven hundred flitches, seven hundred boars, seven hundred wethers, seven hundred oxen, seven hundred cows, and seven hundred cloaks’, but their Laígse neighbours are only marginally better off owing ‘seven hundred cows, seven hundred boars, seven hundred wethers, and seven hundred beeves’ (Dillon 1962, 108-111). Like Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh, Lebor na Cert is also an Uí Briain document and was in fact probably written for the same patron, Brian Bórama’s great-grandson, Muirchertach Ua Briain (Candon 1991, 12). In the one, the Vikings are portrayed as an inherent part of the Irish political scene, in the

other, they are set up as the implacable foe and invincible enemy of earlier Irish rulers. The contradiction, however, in these and other texts, is more apparent than real. For the fact that the Vikings settled among their Irish neighbours from an early period was never to preclude later rulers from turning memories of their oppression and plundering to their own advantage. Thus, kings basked in the reflected glory of ancestors claimed to have triumphed over an almost invincible foe, and ecclesiastics conjured up the spectacle of the arrival once more of plundering pagans in an attempt to ensure that their followers remained faithful. That those followers numbered descendants of those pagans or that the foe had long since turned friend was not an issue. Indeed the extent to which the Hiberno-Norse of the 11th and 12th centuries were consciously perceived as descendants of the ‘fierce warriors from Lochlainn’ is questionable. In any event, references in many 11th- and 12th-century literary texts to Lochlainn and Iruath from where Vikings came, indicate that these places were in the process of being accorded a quasimythical status and are frequently indistinguishable from the Otherworld. A tale which may be 11th-century in date, Siaburcharpat Con Chulainn ‘The Magical Chariot of Cú Chulainn’, for example, recounts a journey undertaken by Cú Chulainn to Lochlainn where he slew a warrior thirty cubits high and killed three hundred and fifty in every onslaught (Best & Bergin 1929, 281-282). Moreover, his expedition to Lochlainn parallels similar journeys made by our hero to even darker Otherworlds, Tír Scáith ‘Land of Shadow’ and hell (Best & Bergin 1929, 282-285). The inhabitants of these territories are not always portrayed as hostile, however. Among the Tuatha Dé Danann chieftains battling valiantly against the Fir Bolg in the 10th- or 11th-century tale, Cath Maige Tuired Cunga ‘The First Battle of Mag Tuired’, is a hero named Áengaba of Iruath who earns the distinction of being killed but returning to fight and win another day (Fraser 1915, 34-37, 46-47). More103

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Máire Ní Mhaonaigh over, in the 12th-century tale, Cath Ruis na Ríg ‘The Battle of Ros na Ríg’, the king of the Ulaid, Conchobar Mac Nessa, seeking to wreak vengeance on other Irish territories for their part in his defeat in Táin Bó Cuailnge ‘The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge’, sends for his allies co Gall-iathaib na nGall ‘to the foreign lands of the foreigners’. These include Amlaíb ua Inscoa, king of Lochlainn, Findmór mac Rofhir, king of the seventh part of Lochlainn, Báre of the Sciggire (the Faroe Islands), as well as Sortabut Sort, king of the Orkneys (Hogan 1892, 10-13). Yet having listed them so learnedly, the author assigns these allies no part in subsequent events of the tale. Drawing on this passage from Cath Ruis na Ríg among others, Donnchadh Ó Corráin has recently suggested that Lochlainn in fact signified Viking Scotland and only came to mean Norway when there were kings there powerful enough to assert control over the Northern and Western Isles, whence they posed a military threat to Britain and Ireland (Ó Corráin 1998). In this connection, it may be noted that according to the 12th-century narrative, Acallam na Senórach ‘The Colloquy of the Ancients’, two kings of Lochlainn, Conus and Conmáel, came to Ireland to avenge their father whom Finn mac Cumaill had killed thall i nAlbain ‘over in Scotland’ (O’Grady 1892, 163; Dooley & Roe 1999, 95). Similarly, Aithed Emere la Tuir nGlesta ‘The Elopement of Emer with Tuir Glesta’, which may also be 12th-century in date, states that Tuir Glesta, the son of the king of Lochlainn, brought Emer, together with his battle spoils, from Ireland to the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and then to Dún Monaig in Scotland where he was killed by Emer’s husband, Cú Chulainn (Meyer 188385, 184-185). While these literary authors located their Lochlainn royalty in Scotland, however, some of their contemporaries used the term more specifically to mean Norway. Thus, Magnus Barelegs is termed rí Lochlainni ‘king of Norway’ in his death notice of 1103 (Mac Airt & Mac Niocaill 1983, 542-543; Ó Corráin 1998, 318-320). More-

over, as we have seen, others were portraying Lochlainn as a far-away place whence Scandinavian warriors who were gradually acquiring otherworldly characteristics came. As a term, therefore, Lochlainn was flexible enough to encompass Vikings of varying hues. It is the monochromatic mythical inhabitant of Lochlainn, however, who becomes dominant by the end of the 12th century, by which time the transformation of Lochlainn into the Otherworld was well-nigh complete. It is in this guise that he appears most frequently in fiannaigecht literature in which Finn mac Cumaill and his bands of roving warriors (fiana) defend Ireland against ferocious beings from Lochlainn, as well as from Iruath which has undergone a similar metamorphosis. Indeed both places are often linked: in Acallam na Senórach, for example, we read how Garb son of Tarb, king of Lochlainn, and his brother Éolus, used to come to Ireland every three years to attack the Tuatha Dé Danann, bringing with them an extraordinary warrior woman, Bé Dreccain ‘Dragon-woman’, who is called ingen Iruaith ‘daughter of Iruath’. Yet despite her training in sorcery and the one thousand ships that came to her aid, she and her companions were defeated by Finn’s valiant men (Stokes 1900, 190-195; Dooley & Roe 1999, 192-197). On other occasions, however, it is to aid the fiana that the strangers come (e.g. Murphy 1933, 44-49). Nonetheless, their help can often be doubled-edged. Three exceptionally skilled sons of the king of Iruath, together with their enormous multi-coloured dog, offer their services to Finn and later succeed in banishing three warriors who were attempting to destroy the fiana. In addition, however, the trio killed two sons of the king of Ulaid who had deigned to spy on them after nightfall. Moreover, the fiana always view them with suspicion since nír’ thuicsetar … in coruguud nó in tinrum tucsat forro ‘they did not understand … their behaviour or their manner towards them’. But, recognising their extraordinary gifts, Finn refuses to have them killed (Stokes

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The Vikings in Medieval Irish Literature 1900, 149-150, 152-153, 168-169, 171-173; Dooley & Roe 1999, 152-153, 155-156, 171172, 174-176). In reality, however, long before the composition of Acallam na Senórach in which this episode is related, Vikings and Irish had come to a mutual understanding, a fact reflected in much of the literature as we have seen. As Finn’s glorious adventures against the awesome, otherworldly Lochlannaig were being composed, a professional poet was composing a eulogy of an Hiberno-Norse king, Ragh-

nall mac Gofraidh, king of the Isle of Man who died in 1229 (Ó Cuív 1955-57). Moreover, from the end of the 12th century, the Irish were contending with a new set of Gaill, the Anglo-Normans; the Vikings can be said to have well and truly arrived! Notes (1) This article was submitted a number of years ago and much of this material is discussed in greater detail in Ní Mhaonaigh 1998.

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The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Nordic Names and Loanwords in Ireland Gillian Fellows-Jensen

The Vikings from Denmark who raided and settled in England left an indelible impression on the place-names of northern and eastern England and on the vocabulary of both the local dialects and standard English. The Vikings who raided and settled in Ireland, on the other hand, Norwegians to begin with but later Danes from the Danelaw as well, made only a very small impression on the place-names and the language of Ireland. The first thought to present itself is that the explanation for this difference might lie in the fact that whereas English and Danish were both Germanic languages so that the English and the Danes would have been able to communicate with each other, even if only with resort to rude noises and uncouth gestures, Irish, a member of the Celtic language family, and Scandinavian would have been mutually incomprehensible and communication between the Irish and the Vikings would have required the services of interpreters. That difficulty of communication cannot be the whole explanation, however, is shown by two other areas where the languages spoken were Celtic, the Western Isles of Scotland and the Isle of Man. Here the Norwegian settlers left a marked impression on the place-names, although there are comparatively few Scandinavian loanwords in Scottish Gaelic and Manx. In order to explain the rarity of Scandinavian place-names in Ireland, a closer look must be taken at the Scandinavian names, which do occur there to see what they can reveal about the activi-

ties of the Vikings in Ireland (Fig. 1). There are a few islands around the Irish coast which bear Scandinavian names. These are probably all to be associated with the early period of Viking raiding. The islands would have been attacked because they housed the churches and hermitages that were the objects of the early raids or because the Vikings wanted to employ them as convenient places of refuge or as sentry-posts. The church on Lambay Island off the coast of Meath, for example, was plundered by the Vikings in 795. The island of Dalkey at the south end of Dublin Bay was employed by the Vikings as a place of refuge after a defeat in 944 and at other times for holding prisoners. Its Scandinavian name *dalk-ey ‘thorn island’(1), would seem to be a translation of the first part of its Irish name Deilginis Cualann ‘the thorn island of Cuala’, which was recorded as early as 733 (Oftedal 1976, 131). This semi-translation points to a certain degree of linguistic contact between the Irish and the Vikings, as perhaps does the name Ireland’s Eye of the island at the northern end of Dublin Bay, which the Vikings had used as a place of refuge in 902 (Smyth 1979, 240). This name would seem to result from a mistaken translation by the Norse of the Irish name Inis Ereann ‘the island of (a woman called) Eria’. The name of Scattery, a monastery on an island in the Shannon estuary, has also been explained as a scandinavianised version of Irish Inis Cathaig. The conspicuous promontory known as Howth just 107

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Gillian Fellows-Jensen

Fig. 1. Map showing place-names of Nordic origin.

south of Ireland’s Eye must have been given this descriptive Scandinavian name *h¸of √i ‘headland linked to the mainland by a narrow neck of land’ by Vikings who frequently sailed past it (Oftedal 1976, 126, 131). The place is still referred to in Irish by its old name Beann Éadair ‘the peak of Édar’. Édar is supposed to have been the name of a

legendary Irish hero but it is more likely to be a reflex of the very old name for the locality, Edrou, which is ascribed in Ptolemy’s 2nd-century geography to an uninhabited island but is considered by scholars to refer to the Howth headland. More significantly, several of the strongholds established by the Vikings along the eastern and

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Nordic Names and Loanwords in Ireland southern coasts have Scandinavian names. This means that the Vikings must have been influential enough in these areas to ensure the use of Nordic names. These names all originally denoted a topographical feature, presumably one close to which the settlement in question had been established. The lost Ulfreksfj¸or√r (now Larne Harbour), Strangford, Carlingford, Waterford and Wexford, for example, are all names in fj¸or√r ‘fiord or inlet’ (Oftedal 1976, 132-3). Ulfreksfj¸or√r contains a Nordic personal name Ulfrek, which is not very common in early Scandinavian sources and seems likely to be a scandinavianised version of the English name Wulfric and might well point to a man from the Danelaw. The first element of Strangford would seem to be the Scandinavian adjective strangr ‘strong’, referring to the strong tidal current which converges at the narrow strait between Strangford and Portaferry, while that of Carlingford (Carlingeford 1192) is the genitive plural of Scandinavian kerling ‘old woman, hag’, probably referring to the three mountain tops known as The Three Nuns, which are used as pilot points for entry into Carlingford Lough. The first element of Wexford is obscure but may be a Scandinavian island name *ueig ‘the water-logged one’, while that of Waterford must be one of the two Scandinavian words of identical form ve√r but with different meanings ‘ram or wether’ and ‘wind or weather’. Wicklow and Arklow both contain the Scandinavian second element ló ‘grassy meadow’. The first element of Wicklow has been thought to be the word víkingr ‘viking’ because of the form Wikingelo employed c.1189 and later but there are good reasons for treating this spelling as an instance of medieval antiquarianising etymology, first and foremost because the term víkingr was not employed by the Vikings of themselves (Oftedal 1976, 129). The name Wicklow is rather to be explained as ‘grassy meadow by the vík or bay’, as suggested by another early form, Wickelow. The first element of Arklow would seem to be the Scandinavian personal name Arnketil and to judge from the spelling

Fig. 2. Limerick, whose English name shows Scandinavian influence. Photo: Else Roesdahl.

Herketelou from 1177, this name must either be that of a 10th-century Viking or of a man from the Danelaw, where the uncontracted form of the second element of the personal name survived longer than in Scandinavia itself. A harbour on the Dingle peninsula which had been known to the Irish as Muirbech, a term used for a ‘breakwater’ or ‘a level strip of land along the coast’, was given a completely new name by the Vikings, Smerwick (smörvík) ‘butter bay’, perhaps from the fertile monastic farmlands lying around it (Ó Corráin 1997, 103). In a few cases Nordic influence can be seen at work on older Irish names of coastal settlements. The Irish name of Limerick, for example, was Luimneach and if this had been borrowed directly into English by the Anglo-Normans, it would have been rendered in English as *Limneagh (Greene 1978, 122) (Fig. 2). The modern form of the English name shows that it must instead have been borrowed from the Scandinavian form Hlymrek. The name Dublin is purely Irish. The Vikings referred to their settlement here as Dubh Linn ‘black pool’, which was actually the name of the pool where they anchored their ships, where the River Poddle flowed into the Liffey (Fig. 3). The Irish preferred to refer to the stronghold as Áth Cliath ‘ford of the wattles’, a name which had originally denoted the strategically important ford upstream from the black pool, at the point where the Liffey ceased to be tidal. The contribution of the Vikings to the name of the chief city of Ireland is thus simply to have ensured that it was the name of the anchorage rather than that of the ford that passed into the English language, presumably because the Anglo-Normans learned their place-names from 109

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Gillian Fellows-Jensen

Fig. 3. Dublin, the Irish name of the ‘black pool’ where the Vikings anchored their ships.

Scandinavian-speakers rather than from the Irish (Greene 1978, 122; Smyth 1979, 238). Within the city of Dublin the presence of a Scandinavian assembly-place on the site of College Green is suggested by the reference in medieval sources to the massive earth-mound here that was levelled to the ground in 1685 as Thengmota from Scandinavian πingmót ‘public meeting’. The mound itself may well have pre-dated the arrival of the Scandinavians but finds from the vicinity have been dated to the 10th century and suggest that the mound may have been re-used for burials and as a meeting-place (Smyth 1979, 239-240). The name of the township of Ting in the barony of Forth, the parish of Rathmacknee, in Co. Wexford may also record the presence of a rural thing in this area, where Scandinavian settlement was comparatively dense (Doherty 1998, 302). Although it is mainly urbanised settlements that have retained Scandinavian names, there is some evidence that the Vikings exercised some form of control over a fairly extensive hinterland to their towns and this is sometimes reflected in the placenames (Fellows-Jensen 1992, 33). The hinterland of Dublin, the area referred to in Icelandic sources as Dyflinnar skíri ‘Dublinshire’ and whose northern part was known to the Irish as Fine Gall ‘land of the foreigners’, was extensive, stretching north

towards Skerries, south towards Wicklow and west as far as Leixlip. This last name is of Norse origin, *lax-hleypa ‘salmon leap’, reflecting the importance of salmon-fishing for the Dublin community. A number of other place-names in Dublinshire contain Scandinavian personal names, i.e. Ballyfermot, a lost Ballygunner, Curtlestown (earlier Baile mhic Thorcail) and Ballally (earlier Baile meic Amhlaibh). The generic element in these four names is Irish baile ‘settlement’ and the defining elements are all in second position. The names must thus have been coined by the Irish (Oftedal 1976, 127). It was earlier thought that names in baile did not begin to be coined until the middle of the 12th century but there is good reason to believe that these four names can date from the Viking period and show that the settlements in question were once in the hands of Vikings called Thormoth and Gunnar and of the sons of Vikings called Thorkel and Olaf respectively, although some Scandinavian personal names did of course survive in use in Ireland until the late 12th century and the four names in Dublinshire could in theory be late ones (Fellows-Jensen 1992, 33). Waterford, too, had its rural hinterland, known as Gaultier ‘land of the foreigners’ (Greene 1978, 122) and the presence of Viking settlers here is indicated by the names Ballygunner and Ballytruckle, the settlements of Gunnar and Thorkel respectively. It is tempting to compare the names Ballyfermot, Ballygunner and Ballytruckle with the placenames in -by which are so common in the Danelaw. They can be translated in the same way as Thormanby, Gunnerby and Thirkleby in England, namely as ‘the settlements of Thormoth, Gunnar and Thorkel’ respectively but there is one significant difference between the two groups of names. The Bally-names were coined by the Irish, the names in -by by the Danes themselves. Closer parallels to the Bally- names in the Danelaw are the hybrid names in English -ton, for example Thurmaston and Thurcaston ‘the settlements of Thormoth and Thorkel’. These names were coined

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Nordic Names and Loanwords in Ireland

Fig. 4. Runic inscription on a sword-fitting found at Greenmount, Co. Louth. Drawing: Royal Irish Academy.

by the English and not by the Vikings and it is often impossible to determine whether the bearers of the Nordic personal names in such place-names were members of the Danish armies who had settled in England in the 9th century, 10th-century descendants of these men or followers of King Knut, who were granted land in England in the 11th century. The most important fact to remember, however, is that there is no place-name evidence in Ireland for the seizure by the Vikings of large estates that were broken up into small independent units that were given names consisting of the tenant’s personal name plus -by. The earliest records of Scandinavian personal names in Irish sources are naturally of the names of the Viking leaders who had been active in the country, for example Saxoilbh from Saksulfr, the first Viking leader to be named in Irish sources, who was killed in 837, but some Norse names were adopted in use by Irish families between the ninth and the eleventh centuries. Among the more popular of these were Amlaíb (Olaf ), Gofraid (Guthfrith), Ímar (Ivar), Ragnall (Ragnald) and Sitriuc (Sigtrygg) (Ó Cuív 1988, 80; Ó Corráin 1997, 105). There is also evidence for the use of Norse bynames or nicknames in Ireland. A runic inscription from c.1100 on a sword-fitting found in a gravemound at Greenmount, Co. Louth reveals

that the sword had been owned by tomnal selshofoπ ‘Dufnall seal’s head’, showing that an 11th-century man with an Irish forename (Domnall) might bear a Norse by-name referring to the round shape of his head (Fig. 4) (Marstrander 1915, 49; Barnes et al. 1997, 50-53). The forename Glúniairn occurs in the annals as the name of a Viking king. It can best be explained as an Irish adaptation of a Nordic by-name Jarnkné ‘iron knee’ and this adaptation would seem to have come into use among the Irish (Ó Cuív 1988, 81). In the form Glunier it was borne by a tenant of land in Yorkshire in 1065 (Smyth 1975, 81). This and various other names of Celtic form or inspiration which occur in the northern Danelaw may well reflect the presence of Irishmen who had come there in company with the Vikings but it is perhaps more likely that it was men from the Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland or from the Isle of Man who were responsible for the Celtic influence on names in northern England (Smyth 1975, 81). In this connection it should be noted that the Amlaíb who came to Ireland in 853 probably came from one of the Viking settlements in Scotland and that a couple of Scandinavian names which make comparatively late appearances in Irish sources, Magnus and Somairle (Sumarli√i), may also have been borrowed into Irish via Scots Gaelic (Ó Cuív 1988, 84). 111

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Gillian Fellows-Jensen A personal name associated with the Vikings, although purely Irish in form and content, is Dubgall ‘black foreigner’, a term which was used in the 9th-century annals with reference to Danish Vikings from York as distinct from Norwegians, who then began to be referred to as Finn Gaill ‘white foreigners’. It seems unlikely that the personal name Dubgall, which in its anglicised form Doyle is one of the commonest surnames in the Dublin area at the present day, was used with specific reference to Danes but there are other Scandinavian names recorded in Ireland which do seem likely to have been introduced by Danes from the Danelaw. The Viking kings began to mint coins in Dublin in the late 10th century and some of their coins bear the names of the moneyers. These are often Anglo-Saxon names, sometimes Scandinavian ones, and the moneyers had probably been brought over from the mint at York. Among the Scandinavian names on Irish coins are Arncetel, Fastol and Stegen (Stein). The uncontracted form of Arncetel’s name and the conventional English representation of Stein as Stegen or Steng suggest that these two moneyers at least had arrived in Ireland from the Danelaw (Fig. 5). In the late 12th-century Dublin roll of names Scandinavian personal names only make comparatively rare appearances. Among those to appear most frequently are a number of compound names in Thor-: Turold, Turbeorn, Torpin (Thorfin), Thurgot, Turkil, Thurstein and the short form Toki. All these names were also in common use in the Nordic homelands. The only signs of Irish-Nordic creative initiative among the names in the Dublin roll are the forename Iarnfin, an otherwise unrecorded compound, and the by-names Utlag ‘outlaw’, borne by Torsten and Reginaldus, and the partially anglicised Vnnithing ‘undastard’, borne by Philippus. As mentioned above, the place-name evidence reveals that although it is the fortified coastal strongholds that characterise the Viking settlement in Ireland, the names in the rural hinter-

Fig. 5. Coin showing an anglicised version Steng of the Scandinavian name Stein. Photo: The Royal Coin Cabinet, The National Museum of Denmark.

lands of these strongholds also reveal some traces of a Viking presence. This presence is confirmed by the fact that some of the earliest to be recorded of the score or so Scandinavian loanwords in Irish are concerned with agriculture, for example punnann ‘sheaf ’ from the verb binda ‘to bind’, cf. Norwegian dialect bundan ‘sheaf ’, garrdha ‘fenced garden plot’ from gar√r, pónair ‘beans’ from baunir (Bugge 1912). Loanwords for articles of clothing such as matal ‘cloak’ from möttull < Latin mantellum, cnap ‘button’ from knappr or English cnæpp, and bróg, now meaning ’shoe’, from brók ‘long hose, breeches’, reflect the daily-life of town and country alike, while words such as margadh ‘market, bargain’ from marka√r < Latin mercatus, and scilling ‘shilling’ from skilling or English scilling, point to the trading milieu of the towns. The word beoir ‘beer’ from bjórr was probably used for a different kind of ale from that to which the Irish were accustomed. A few Norse terms borrowed into Old Irish point to some form of organisational contact, for example ármann ‘officer, official’ from árma√r ‘estate steward’, lagmann ‘lawman’ from lögma√r, traill ‘thrall, slave’ from thræll, and the verb rannsughadh ‘search, rummage’ from rannsaka ‘to search a house’. The most significant category of loanwords, however, is that concerned with shipbuilding and seamanship. David Greene has noted that before contact with the Vikings, the Irish seem to have been most reluctant to go to sea – with the excep-

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Nordic Names and Loanwords in Ireland tion of the early monks who set out on voyages as a way of withdrawing from the world (Greene 1976, 79). Apart from words such as séol ‘sail’ and bordd ‘board’, which must have been borrowed from English, bát ‘boat’, which probably came from the same source, and the term crann ‘tree’, which was used for ‘mast’, the basic maritime vocabulary in Irish comes from Norse and words such as scód ‘sheet’ from skaut, stiúir ‘rudder’ from st´yri and tochta ‘thwart’ from topt are still in use today. Other Norse loanwords in the maritime sphere are scibeadh ‘to fit out a ship’ from skipa, leagadh ‘to lay down (of a sail)’ from leggja, and the Old Irish words cnairr plural ‘ships’ from cnörr, stag ‘stay’ from stag, tile ‘board’ from πili, lunnta ‘oar-handle’ perhaps from hlunnr (roller for landing), ábur ‘oar-hole’ from hábora, and beirling ‘pole’ from berling, accaire ‘anchor’ from akkeri, scúta ‘warship’ from skúta, laídeng ‘warship’ from lei√angr or *lei√ing, sess ‘seat’ probably from sess, stiúrusmann ‘steersman, skipper’ from st´yrisma√r, and sreng ‘cord, rope’ from strengr. As a result of improved navigation, the Irish could also begin to catch deep-sea fish such as langa ‘ling’ from Norse langa and trosc ‘cod’ from Norse πorskr. Finally mention should be made of the very earliest Nordic loanword in Old Irish, erell, iarla ‘earl’ from jarl, which first occurs in connection with Scandinavian personal names in the 9th century

but which had become acclimatised in Irish by the tenth century and would seem to have acquired a wide semantic range, being sometimes used in a pejorative sense but also with praiseworthy associations, suggesting that the Irish had an ambiguous attitude to the Vikings and were not entirely unimpressed by their military leaders (Ó Corráin 1987, 292). There are only about twenty Norse loanwords in common use in Irish and this fact does not point to a great deal of linguistic contact between the Irish and the Vikings. In one Irish source the haggling of the Norse merchants is referred to as gic-goc Gallgaidhel ‘pidgin Gaelic’, a term suggesting very broken Irish but indicating that there was in fact some form of communication between the two nationalities at the markets (Marstrander 1915, 10; Mac Mathuna 1997, 55). The Vikings would seem to have continued to live their own lives and to speak their own language in their strongholds, perhaps until the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1169, for it may have been from Scandinavianspeaking inhabitants that the Anglo-Norman settlers learned the names of the towns. The possibility has also to be borne in mind, however, that these names may have become familiar to English seamen and merchants at a rather earlier date and been adopted into English by this route.

Notes (1) * Indicates that the form in question has been reconstructed on the basis of recorded forms.

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The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic Anne-Christine Larsen & Steffen Stummann Hansen Introduction In 795 the Irish Annals contain their first report of the arrival of Scandinavian people in Ireland. This event would turn out to be not just a preliminary air-raid warning of a harmless Scandinavian desire to visit Ireland or to watch the sun go down on Galway Bay. It was to become one of the initial steps in a larger and, geographically speaking, far more extensive Scandinavian expansion towards the west during the Viking Age. The background for the expansion was partly the economical, social and political development within the Late-Iron-Age societies in Scandinavia, including the development of a superior technology in ship-building. During the Viking Age the Scandinavian expansion westwards was to play a rather dominant and decisive role not only in events in Ireland, but also in England, Scotland, the Scottish Isles, and in the entire process of landnรกm in the North Atlantic. A virtual Scandinavian Empire of the Western Seas was established which, besides the communities in Ireland, included parts of England, major parts of the Scottish Mainland, the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland (i.e. the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland), the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. This expansion saw its ultimative expression in the attempts to settle on the eastern fringes of North America around 1000 (Fig. 1).

Hereby, the North Sea region and parts of the wider North Atlantic were transformed into a cultural inland sea in what could be termed a Scandinavian sphere of interest. In the east were the Scandinavian homelands, primarily Norway and Denmark; in the west the established new emigrant communities in Ireland, England, Scotland, the Western and Northern Isles, and further to the north, the new areas of settlement in the North Atlantic. In this inland sea the expansive, and initially pagan, Scandinavian culture was confronted and mixed with a rather foreign and Christian Celtic culture. This mixture of cultural influences was to put its imprint on the Scandinavian Empire of the Western Seas and the Scandinavian expansion even further away in the North Atlantic. The newly established emigrant communities were separated from each other by often considerable distances but at the same time they were in many ways tied together by a homogenous, common emigrant culture with a background in their Scandinavian homelands. This homogeneity was expressed through traditions, partly in articles for daily use and the preferred raw materials, but also in the building customs as they were displayed in the vernacular architecture of the farmsteads. The mixture of various cultural identities and traditions with different ethnic backgrounds is 115

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Fig. 1. View towards the east from the top of Kalsoy in the Faroe Islands. To the left can be seen the islands of Kunoy and Bor√oy respectively. Even though it was a new world the emigrants could in many ways feel at home in their new environment which was not without resemblance to the landscapes of Scandinavia. Photo: Steffen Stummann Hansen.

highlighted in the sagas, thereby presenting a picture of the North Atlantic as a melting pot in the Viking Age and Early Medieval period. However, unfortunately rather little attention has been paid to this perspective on the basis of material culture – i.e. the archaeological assemblage from sites all over the North Atlantic and the North Sea region. This article will try to suggest how the archaeological record would take a more prominent part in the discussion of the interrelationship not only between the separate communities in the North Atlantic but even between a rural Scandinavian economy and the urban economy which existed in towns like Dublin. Scandinavian architecture For a number of years Scandinavian farmsteads

were only known from a limited number of ‘classical’ sites in the British Isles, for instance Jarlshof and Underhoull in Shetland (Curle 1935, 1936; Hamilton 1956; Small 1967, 1968), the Brough of Birsay in Orkney (Radford 1959; RCAHMS 1946) and Freswick in Caithness (Childe 1943; Curle 1939). One of the reasons for this was, undoubtedly, that Scottish archaeologists far up in the 20th century still held the opinion that the Scandinavians always built in wood, and as all relics in Scotland were of stone, they could not be of Scandinavian origin (Roussell 1934, 8). In an inventory for the Western Isles one could read: ‘The Norsemen of the Viking period were essentially builders in wood, and no edifices of dry-built stone masonry were known in Norway either of that period or of preceeding ages’; a note

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Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic adds, ‘The literary evidence puts this beyond doubt’ (RCAHMS 1928, xxiii). It is now known that the houses basically had a wooden construction but also stone-built (protective) walls so that ruins of them today appear as stone-lined wall-foundations (Fig. 2). Within the last decades, however, the farmsteads of the Viking Age in Mainland Scotland and the Scottish Isles have started to come to light to a larger extent, primarily in Orkney (A. Ritchie 1977; Hunter, Bond & Smith 1993; Kaland 1973, 1993, 1996; Owen 1993) and Shetland (Bigelow 1985, 1987, 1989; Crawford & Ballin Smith 1999; Larsen 1997; Stummann Hansen 1998a, 2000; Larsen & Stummann Hansen 1998), and to a lesser degree in the Western Isles (MacLaren 1974; Sharples & Parker Pearson 1999) and the Scottish mainland (Morris, Batey & Rackham 1995). Also from the Scandinavian communities further north in the Atlantic are such houses wellknown, i.e. in the Faroe Islands (for references see Stummann Hansen, in press a), Iceland (see for instance Stenberger 1943), Greenland (Roussell 1936, 1941; Nørlund & Stenberger 1934; Albrethsen & Ólafsson 1998), and Newfoundland (Ingstad 1985). The classical wood-built longhouse of the Scandinavian Late Iron Age and Viking Age, with curved walls, and with the byre in one end and the dwelling in the other end of the house, can thus be recognized in a partly stone-built version in all the emigrant communities around the North Sea and in the North Atlantic. The buildings are strikingly similar in appearance and it is surprising that they occur even in absolutely treeless regions such as, for instance, the Faroe Islands and Shetland (Stoklund 1984; Stummann Hansen 1999a, 2000, in press a, in press b) (Fig. 3). The wood-consuming longhouse can hardly be regarded as particularly functional in these regions with their tree-sparse or even treeless landscapes. The house, therefore, can be regarded as a cultural emphasizer and must have had an almost symbolic

Fig. 2. Scandinavian longhouse, probably of the 10th century at the site Hamar on the island of Unst in Shetland. The structure, which was recorded and drawn by the authors in 1995, is probably the best preserved of its kind in Britain. Photo: the authors.

importance to the settlers. The house was the forum for a number of activities which were central to social and daily life. The reason why the emigrants brought with them their architecture and building customs was that they had a very clear idea and concept of what a house and home was. The mobile farmers of the Viking Age could thus travel from one end of the North Atlantic to the other and still feel confident and safe everywhere, no matter what house they had to enter. They were, so to speak, travelling in a Scandinavian world. The artefacts of daily life The homogeneity of the Scandinavian emigrant 117

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Fig. 3. Scandinavian longhouses of the Viking Age from respectively Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands and Southwest Norway. 1. Toftanes, the Faroe Islands; 2. Ni√ri á Toft, the Faroe Islands; 3. Hamar, Shetland; 4. Jarlshof, Shetland; 5. Brough of Birsay, Orkney; 6. Oma, Norway. Note the almost standardized morphology and size of the houses and the opening in the lower-lying gable end (byre end) (after Stummann Hansen 2000.)

culture is also expressed in the implements and raw materials which were essential in daily life. The archaeological material from the settlements in Scandinavia, and particularily in Norway, is to a large extent dominated by soapstone. This soft stone material is abundant at Viking settlements in Norway, as it was used for cooking vessels, bowls, cups, line- and net-sinkers, spindle whorls, loom weights, gaming boards, just to mention some objects (Fig. 4). Likewise, whetstones of schist were very essential tools in daily life (Fig. 5). Quite a lot of the whetstones were produced of a light, coarse-grained schist. Whetstones of this material have been found all over the Viking world and the raw material has recently been identified as originating from a par-

ticular mountain in Eidsborg in Norway (Myrvoll 1985, 1991). The provenance of a more bluish, finegrained schist, which was also used for whetstones all over the Viking world, has regrettably not been identified yet. The emigrants brought with them traditions for using both types. In the Faroe Islands they also exploited the juniper plant which covered the slopes at the time of their initial arrival (Jóhansen 1985; Larsen 1991; Small 1992). The juniper branches were transformed into rope-like twigs, which were used for a range of purposes. The exploitation of the juniper species is well-known in Norway, and the tradition no doubt was transferred to the newly established communities by emigrants from Scandinavia rather than from the British Isles or Ireland, where a similar tradition did not exist. Actually, the only tradition here for using juniper is gin (Larsen 1991). A major problem for the emigrants was, however, that the separate islands or archipelagos had differing conditions to offer them. Shetland, for instance, is gifted with abundant outcrops of soapstone as well as schist, while the Faroe Islands have neither of these. In Shetland, thus, there was an

Fig. 4. Selection of typical objects of soapstone: (a) sherds from big vessels; (b-d) line- and net-sinkers for fishing; (e-i) finished and semi-manufactured spindle whorls. Photo: Steffen Stummann Hansen/Føroya Fornminnissavn.

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Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic easy access to raw materials which were basic to a Scandinavian tool assemblage (Butler 1989; P.R. Ritchie 1989). Contrary to their fellow emigrants in Shetland, the emigrants in the Faroe Islands were forced to import finished products, semimanufactures or even raw materials for their own production of tools. The economic conditions thus were extremely different in the individual communities.

Fig. 5. Whetstones of schist found at Toftanes. It has been possible to identify the origin of a certain light schist as Eidsborg in Norway. Photo: Steffen Stummann Hansen.

The character of the settlement The Scandinavian emigrant communities in Scotland and further afield in the North Atlantic were characterised by a rural settlement, typically consisting of farmsteads spread over all the cultivable

Fig. 6. The village of LeirvĂ­k, in Eysturoy, is situated on the coast and on the remaining three sides surrounded by approximately 600 metre-high mountains. Almost all the Faroese settlements are located on the relatively limited cultivable areas, typically close down near the coastline. Virtually all the present-day settlements in the Faroe Islands, with a few exceptions, were founded by the Vikings and gradually grew up around the initial Scandinavian farmsteads. Photo: Steffen Stummann Hansen.

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Anne-Christine Larsen & Steffen Stummann Hansen parts of the landscape. Because of similarities in landscape, this settlement pattern probably had its closest parallels in Western Norway (Fig. 6). They were well-organized communities with clearly defined rights of property and ownership of land and access to the natural resources which were essential for the maintenance of a living. They were also communities with a political and legal administration which found expression, for example, in legal cases being settled at so-called things, evidence for the existence of which is still preserved in place-names such as, for instance, ∏ingvellir (Iceland), Tinganes (Faroe Islands), Tingwall (Shetland) and Dingwall (Scotland). But they were also communities which lacked towns as proper centres of production with their established contacts to other interregional or even international markets and economies. In the rural communities of the North Atlantic most goods and services must have changed hands on a purely personal and private basis without involving a proper market economy. Contrary to this, the Scandinavians in Ireland established towns, not unlike the ones in contemporary Southern Scandinavia but probably more like the ones they had seen in England (Wallace 1988). These Hiberno-Scandinavian (Irish-Scandinavian) urban centres were undoubtedly surrounded by a rural hinterland but rural settlements of Scandinavian character have not yet been found in Ireland (Bradley 1988). The Viking settlement in Ireland was thus different from the Scandinavian settlements in the North Atlantic, and it could therefore be asked what role the urban centres in Ireland played for the rural communities of the North Atlantic? The Scandinavian link The Scandinavian emigrant communities in the North Atlantic, in the words of the saga-writers, were established primarily by a Norwegian peasant aristocracy, which at the end of the 9th century had been forced to flee Norway as a result of

their opposition to King Harald Finehair’s attempts to gain sovereign supremacy over all Norway. According to the Saga of Harald Finehair, this happened after the so-called Battle of Hafrsfjord outside Stavanger, which is supposed to have taken place c. 872. The Saga states: ‘After the battle King Harald met no opposition in Norway; by then all his worst enemies had been slain. But some fled the country, and that was a large number of people, because at that time great empty lands were settled. ( ....) During the unrest which followed King Harald’s subjection of Norway, the lands out in the sea were discovered and settled, the Faroe Islands and Iceland; at that time there was also extensive travel to Shetland’ (Holtsmark & Seip 1975, 62-63 – authors’ translation). There is hardly any reason not to believe that the emigrants brought with them what they found to be essential for the maintenance of an existence. At the same time it must be presumed that there was only a limited desire for contact with the homelands. Bitterness and frustration over forced political exile must have made it difficult for the emigrants subsequently to identify themselves with the new social and political order which they had only recently fought against at the risk of their lives. The emigrants were faced with two problems which were inextricably connected. On the one hand they faced the task of establishing new communities, organizing them and making them function; on the other hand they needed to create for themselves a new cultural identity. In this process they needed access to urban centres where they could trade their produce for staple goods, exotic merchandise, jewellery etc. The Scandinavian expansion to, and impact on, Ireland in the 9th century was of a rather unstable character. This, amongst other things, is demonstrated by the fact that the base (longphort), which they established in 841 in Dublin, had to be given up again in 902. First with the re-conquest of Dublin in 917 did the Scandinavian im-

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2 1


Fig. 7. Ringed bronze pins of Hiberno-Scandinavian (Irish-Scandinavian) type of the 10th century found at the Viking sites: 1. Toftanes, the Faroe Islands; 2. Dublin; 3. Buckquoy, Orkney (after Stummann Hansen 1993, Fanning 1994, A. Ritchie 1977, and (sketch) Fanning 1988).

pact in Ireland seem to have acquired a more permanent character and within a few years a number of urban settlements were founded – Waterford in 914 (Bradley & Halpin 1992; Hurley 1992), Cork in 915 (Bradley & Halpin 1993), Dublin in 917 (Wallace 1988, 1992), Wexford in 921 (E. Bourke 1988-89), and Limerick in 922. With this process completed, an urban basis had been created for the Scandinavian communities further north, which gave them access to the world market economy of the Viking Age and thereby the acquisition of a wide range of goods and supplies. The Irish link The Scandinavian settlers in the Scottish Isles and further up in the North Atlantic created their own emigrant identity which in the course of the 10th

century was expressed, among other ways, by their choice of, for instance, personal equipment. Among the most popular items were the so-called ringed pins. The pins, typically produced in bronze, were everyday items used for dress (Fanning 1988). This type of pin was not of original Scandinavian form but had its origin in Celtic (Irish) tradition. The original Irish form was, however, quickly adopted by the Scandinavian communities in Ireland and they combined, in the form and the ornamental patterns on the pins, traditions of both Celtic and Scandinavian origin. During the Viking Age and the Early Medieval period these ringed pins veritably became a symbol of the emigrant communities of the west and the North Atlantic. Excavations at, for instance, the site Fishamble Street in Dublin have produced quite a number of this type of pin, and there is hardly any doubt that Dublin must have provided large parts of the western emigrant communities with this item in the Viking Age. In the 10th century plain-ringed baluster and polyhedral headed pins occur in graves as well as settlement contexts from Ireland in the south to Iceland in the north and Newfoundland in the west (Fig. 7). Except for a few examples found in Viking towns like Odense, Århus, Ribe and Hedeby in Southern Scandinavia (Fanning 2000), only two examples have been found in Sweden and two (unprovenanced) ones in Norway (Fanning 1994, 34-36). The distribution of these pins led Fanning to state (Fanning 1994, 34): ‘In general terms, however, the analogies with the Dublin pins of this group underline the Hiberno-Norse links, and their distribution reflects Scandinavian trade and settlement patterns in the 10th and early 11th centuries’.

Another popular item of personal equipment in the emigrant communities of the West and North in the 10th century were arm-rings of jet or lignite. Raw materials as well as finished products 121

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Anne-Christine Larsen & Steffen Stummann Hansen have been found at the sites of Fishamble Street and Christchurch Place in Viking Dublin. As with the ringed pins, there is reason to presume that these were items of importance to the whole western Viking world. Such arm-rings have been found in Scandinavian burials and settlements of the 10th century in Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland (Fig. 8). There are no documented finds of this type of equipment from 10th-century Norway (for references see Stummann Hansen 1996, 127-128). The distribution of these two types of personal equipment more than indicates that the emigrant communities of the 10th century regarded themselves as being part of a western Viking culture which in its cultural manifestations combined the Celtic and the Scandinavian world. The emigrant communities established an identity which on the one hand, in settlement pattern, vernacular building customs, and the exploitation of the natural resources stuck to central traditions in rural Scandinavian society; and on the other hand, with background in the more permanent urban Scandinavian settlement in Ireland in the 10th century, reflected a general acceptance of ideas, form and decoration based on traditions in Celtic society and developed in the Hiberno-Scandinavian towns in Ireland (Fig. 9). The spreading of various types of personal equipment from the Scandinavian settlements in Ireland to the emigrant communities in the North Atlantic may only represent the above-mentioned transmission of ideas but on the other hand the possibility cannot be ignored that it may represent movement of people. Another important feature in this context may be the milling technology. Horizontal mills in the Northern and Western Isles are normally referred to as Norse mills. The idea behind that term, of course, is that the Scandinavians brought the horizontal mill with them when they settled in the west. Quern- and mill-stones found on settlement

Fig. 8. Armring of jet or lignite from a Viking burial of the 10th century found in Castletown, Caithness. Photo: The National Museums of Scotland.

sites in the Viking West do, however, seem to contain certain features which were not known in Scandinavia at the time. They are typically furnished with a collar around the central hole on the upper stone and have a slot for the T-shaped iron bars on the underside of the upperstone. Quern- and millstones of this type have been found on sites in the Northern Isles, Faroe Islands and Greenland. The features mentioned do not seem to be Scandinavian in origin but are known from the British Isles and Ireland before the Viking Age, probably because of the Romans, who were familiar with milling technology (Stummann Hansen 1993, 1996). Maybe, then, we should think of the horizontal mill as a phenomenon which, like the ringed pin, the Scandinavians adopted and even brought back with them to Scandinavian society (Stummann Hansen & Larsen 2000). As demonstrated earlier in this article the architecture of Scandinavian farmsteads in the various emigrant communities of the North Atlantic show a high degree of homogeneity and standardisation within a West Nordic building tradition. In some regions of the North Atlantic the settlement pattern also contains shielings. This feature is known from the Faroe Islands (Mahler 1991; 1993), Iceland (Sveinbjarnardรณttir 1991; 1992) and Greenland (Albrethsen & Keller 1986). It has

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Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic recently been convincingly demonstrated that shielings in the Faroe Islands are usually connected with place names containing the linguistic element of ‘argi’ or ‘ergi’ (Mahler 1991; 1993). This element probably derives from Gaelic ‘áirge’ meaning shieling, and is supposed to have been adopted into Old Norse in the form ‘ærgi’ in the 9th century. The shieling system must have been an important part of the subsistence strategy during the first centuries of settlement in the Faroe Islands. The fact that it is connected with place names containing a Gaelic term for a shieling, is therefore a strong indicator of the influence, which the Scandinavian or Hiberno-Scandinavian communities around the Irish Sea must have had on the early settlement further up in the North Atlantic in the Viking Age. It is difficult at present to say whether these communities also had influence on the shieling

Fig. 9. Distribution map of ringed pins of the polyhedralheaded type and armrings of jet or lignite (after Fanning 1994 and Stummann Hansen 1996).

systems originally established in Iceland and Greenland. The place name evidence from Iceland does not indicate this. In Greenland hardly any placenames have survived from the Medieval Period and therefore make this question almost impossible to answer. Regarding Greenland, it may, however, be taken into account that so far very few early sites have been excavated and future investigations may very well deliver materiel evidence for a Hiberno-Scandinavian influence on the Scandinavian settlements in Greenland. If so, it will substantiate the theories of Poul Nørlund (1888-1951) who in connection with his publication of the excavation of the Bishop’s residence at Gar√ar in the Eastern Settlement argued for a strong connection between the Scandinavian settlements in the British Isles (in which he probably included Ireland) and those in Greenland (Nørlund 1967, 31). Another example of a question to be examined is that of baking-stones of schist. These are normally regarded as being of Norwegian origin. They start to occur in Norwegian towns in strata which can be dated to approximately 1100 and are normally considered to be an original Norwegian invention (Weber 1999). Recent excavations at sites in Shetland may, however, suggest a different picture. At the site of Sandwick North, in Unst, a very large number of fragments of baking-stones produced from local soapstone have been recorded (Stummann Hansen 1998a). Also at another site in Unst, Setters, numbers of fragments of such baking-stones have been found (Larsen 1997). While a firmer documentation of the stratigraphy at Setters has to await further excavation, the entire artefact assemblage at Sandwick North indicates a dating of this site to the 11th century, based on some typical late Viking Age metalwork (Stummann Hansen 1998a). The question, therefore, has to be raised: could it be that baking-stones are not a Scandinavian invention but a feature which was originally brought to the British Isles and later adopted by the incom123

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Fig. 10. Scandinavian house structures of the early 11th century excavated during the 1960s at the site Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Anse aux Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland. Note the reconstructed houses to the lower left at the photograph. The excavation only produced a couple of objects diagnostic of the Viking Age, most important a ringed pin of HibernoScandinavian type. Photo: the authors.

ing Scandinavians in the Viking Age and brought back to Scandinavia? It should be remembered that the Annals of Ulster refer to turbulence around the Hiberno-Scandinavian settlers in the Western Isles. These second or third generation settlers, who are referred to in the annals as the Gall-Gaedhill, at the end of the 9th century seem to have had their day and to have been forced by various political events further to the north. This happened approximately at the same time as Harald Finehairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attempts to gain sole primacy over Norway (Crawford 1987, 127; Smyth 1984, 161ff ). If the movement from Norway mingled with the movement northwards of the Hiberno-Scan-

dinavian, it would presumably have had a rather significant influence on the creation of cultural identity in the North Atlantic communities. This is, maybe, further substantiated in that the first settlers in the Faroe Islands, according to the socalled Saga of the Faroe Islanders, bore either Christian or Celtic names. A similar tradition is attached to the early settlement of Iceland. Scandinavian exit The Scandinavian Empire of the Western Seas at its highest peak comprised, besides the homelands, the urban centres in Ireland, large parts of Scotland, the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the settlements in

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Viking Ireland and the Scandinavian Communities in the North Atlantic

Fig. 11. Map showing the Scandinavian Empire of the Western Seas at its peak (after A. Ritchie 1993).

Greenland and perhaps even the presumably very temporary and fragile outposts in North America (Figs. 10-11). While the period until c. 1100 was characterized by a rather independent emigrant culture, whose identity was the product of an interplay between Celtic and Scandinavian traditions, the following centuries bore the stamp of an increasing Christian influence in the emigrant communities and the consequences of their becoming, as taxlands, an integrated part of the Medieval Norwegian church and Kingdom. The Scandinavian Empire of the Western Seas

lasted, as a whole or in part, for approximately five hundred years (Fig. 11). First the Scandinavian bastions in England had to be given up definitively towards the end of the 11th century. The Scandinavian influence in Ireland was brought to an end at the end of the 12th century, when Anglo-Norman and Celtic culture again became dominant. After the battle at Largs, a little south of Glasgow, in 1263 the engagement in Mainland Scotland also had to stop, and Scotland became a united kingdom, in which the significance of the Scandinavian element rapidly disappeared. The Western Isles were given up in 1266 but in spite of this Scan125

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Fig. 12. The Monument for the Battle of Hafrsfjord on the outskirts of Stavanger, Southwest Norway. The three 9.2 metre-high Viking swords were unveiled in 1972, the presumed 1100th anniversary of the Battle of Hafrsfjord. Photo: Steffen Stummann Hansen.

dinavian language, in some areas, seems to have lived on until the 14th century. The Northern Isles of Scotland – Orkney and Shetland – remained under Scandinavian control until 1469, when King Christian II of Denmark pawned them, as a dowry for his daughter, who was to marry the King of Scotland (Goudie 1887). An already initiated Scottification of the islands now increased but the Scandinavian language (Norn) remained in use in some areas of Shetland until around the year 1800. A Scandinavian revival even occurred in Shetland in the first decades of the 20th century (Stummann Hansen 1998b, 1999b). Today the former Scandinavian settlements in Ireland and, especially, Scotland, first and foremost reveal themselves in an abundance of place-names of Scandinavian origin. The Scandinavian communities further away in

the North Atlantic remained Scandinavian in identity, for which there are several reasons. First of all these islands and archipelagos had not previously been inhabited and therefore had no Celtic or Pictish heritage which the Scandinavian emigrants had to deal with. Secondly, they were situated adequately remotely so as not to attract too much attention. By the end of the Medieval period they had been degraded to being on the fringe of Europe. But the memory of a glorious past lived on in sagas and traditions – even up until the present day (Fig. 12). Acknowledgements The authors want to express their gratitude to the National Museums of Scotland who kindly placed the photograph in figure 8 at our disposal.

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland Anne-Christine Larsen

Introduction The Viking presence in Ireland lasted for more than 400 years, from the very beginning of what is known as the Viking Age until the Norman conquest in 1169. The earliest reference to the Vikings in Ireland is in a written source of 795, which describes their first attack on the island of Lambay, situated off the east coast of Ireland, not far from Dublin (as it was later known). The exhibition covers aspects of the period leading up to and during the Viking presence in Ireland, and concentrates mainly on finds from Dublin, which became the most important merchant town of the Vikings. The meeting of the Irish and Nordic cultures played a very important role, and the exhibition describes the character of this cultural meeting, and the direct contact between the two peoples, as evidenced in written sources and archaeological discoveries. The coast around Dublin The Irish coast that greeted the Vikings had very few natural harbours and beaches and little coastal trade. The shore that the Viking ships met was full of cliffs, rocks and breakers, but at the mouth of the rivers the coastline was more practicable. The sailing conditions for the ships were good on the rivers, and the rivers lead further inland to a terrain that contained many lakes. Dublin is located at the mouth of the River Liffey and the Viking settlement was situated at the

natural brow of the hill on the southern side of the river. The sources – where we gained our knowledge There are many Irish sources which refer to the Vikings. In contrast to their own homelands, there is a large amount of Irish written material from the Viking Age. This material was recorded by Irish monks and special emphasis was laid upon the Vikings’ many plundering raids, their violence, their brutal, murdering wars and their capture of slaves. These sources are usually short citations, but in general the Vikings – understandably enough – are not seen in a very positive light. Apart from written sources, where the Annals of Ulster stand central, there are also many archaeological finds, especially from the later Viking towns such as Dublin, Waterford and Wexford. Nordic loan-words also bear witness to a Viking presence in Ireland spanning several hundred years. The history of the Vikings in Ireland The history of the Vikings in Ireland began very violently with plundering raids, and the course of these raids was very much determined by what other activities were taking place in the rest of the Viking world. The Vikings travelled to Ireland for many different reasons, and their activities were not all of a peaceful kind: raids on churches and monasteries, 127

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Anne-Christine Larsen

Wicklow town and coast. Photo © Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

blackmail, battle, murder and kidnapping were all too familiar features of Viking invasions, but they also built ships, bridges and castles, and they were good merchants and negotiators. The economic basis which was the original reason for the Viking occupation in the Irish area developed from trade within the country to export of various merchandise to other immigration areas of the Viking Age. The first attacks – 795-830s The initial historical period lasted until the 830s and was characterised by lightning sorties. In these decades the Norsemen used small flotillas to attack the Irish coastline. The raids happened with such speed that all the ships had long disappeared before the Irish had time to defend themselves. In the course of this period, the Vikings raided the

The Viking raiders in Ireland 795-825 (after Ó Corráin 1998, 437. H.B. Clarke, M. Ni Mhaonaigh & R. Ó Floinn (eds), Ireland and Scandinavia in the Early Viking Age. Dublin).

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The Exhibition â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Vikings in Ireland

The Derrynaflan Hoard. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

entire Irish coastline. There was a marked increase in the number of attacks in the 830s, and the same monasteries were attacked several times â&#x20AC;&#x201C; amongst them the rich monastic settlement of Armagh, which suffered three raids in less than a month. In that same space of time, no less than 25 churches were relieved of their valuables. The Vikings were not the only sinners However, the monasteries were the targets for attacks not only by the Vikings, but also by the Irish themselves. It was not just the Norsemen who perpetrated violent raids. Written sources describe 26

attacks by Vikings between 795 and 820, but no less than 87 raids in the same period were carried out by the Irish themselves! Ireland was divided into many independent kingdoms which were continually in conflict with one another. The country was in constant strife, and the plundering of monasteries was a tradition long before the Vikings arrived. The monasteries were extremely attractive targets for anyone in need of capital, because of their immense wealth. But whereas the Irish never stole articles of religious value, the Vikings had no scruples about stealing holy books, shrines, chalices etc. 129

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Anne-Christine Larsen The benefits of the raids The targets for the Viking raids were first and foremost the treasures to be found in the churches and monasteries. These contained untold wealth, and they were also used as hiding places for the personal valuables of the local inhabitants. Irish churches and monasteries were regarded as the most secure place to store valuable personal belongings, including cereals and other foodstuffs. Hoard from Derrynaflan, Co. Tipperary This hoard of ecclesiastical metalwork was found buried under the ground at the early medieval church site of Derrynaflan. It consists of a set of vessels for use in the Mass: a silver chalice, a silver patten, a bronze strainer-ladle for straining the wine and a plain bronze basin, probably for washing hands. The objects are not all of the same date. The patten dates to the 8th century and the chalice to the 9th, while the other objects could be of 8th or 9th century date. It was treasures like these that the Vikings ruthlessly stole from the Irish churches and monasteries. Fortunately this set of vessels for use in the Mass still exists â&#x20AC;&#x201C; probably because it was hidden from the Vikings. 830s-912. The Vikings settle in Ireland Plundering accelerated after the 830s and culminated around 845. The attackers used many ships and deployed their forces over large areas of land. Fleets of more than 100 ships sailed far up the principal rivers, among them the Shannon, Boyne and Liffey, and large abbeys like the ones at Armagh and Clonmacnoise were attacked. Naval bases were established and the Vikings set up their first proper settlement in the winter of 840-841 close to Lough Neagh in Ulster. During the same period they also established fortified bases in Dublin and Annagassan. 873-912. The 40-year peace The settlement gave the Vikings a more perma-

nent point from which to direct their activities, but it also provided an easier target for Irish counterattacks. Many settlements and bases were overrun during the period 873-912 and many Vikings were forced to flee the country. In 902, the Vikings were driven out of Dublin. This period came to be known, somewhat misleadingly, as the 40year peace, perhaps because the number of Viking attacks diminished during these years. But the internecine strife in Ireland, in which the Vikings became involved, continued. The Vikings made military and matrimonial alliances with the Irish and the new Viking communities established themselves as small independent kingdoms within Irish society, which already consisted of about 150 small kingdoms â&#x20AC;&#x201C; tuatha. The political centres of gravity in Ireland lay in these kingdoms, with each king the sovereign within his own tuath. There was a chosen paramount ruler, but this august position was almost completely symbolic. 912-1170. New attacks and integration The Vikings were forced to leave Dublin in 902, but in 908 the battle of Bealach Mugna decisively affected the balance of power in Southern Ireland. The Eoganacht dynasty, by tradition the dominant power in Southern Ireland, succumbed to the dynasties of Leinster and UĂ­ Neill. In 912, the Vikings seized the opportunity this presented and returned once more in large fleets of ships. In 917, Dublin was re-established and gradually the town became a thriving commercial centre. It also became the most important Viking power centre and it was from here that the other settlements were controlled. Several towns were developed besides Dublin, among them Waterford, Wexford, Limerick and Cork. The indications are that in some places the surrounding countryside was incorporated in the town administration and used for agriculture. Under King Olav Sigtrygsson, who ruled from around 950 to 980, the area of countryside belonging to Dublin was extensive.

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland

Human skull with cut-marks and neckring with chain – cruel evidence of some of the less attractive activities of the Vikings. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

However, the essential interests of the Vikings were international trade, plunder, taxes and politics. The Viking towns became integrated into the political system as independent kingdoms, and political developments in Ireland led to the Vikings gradually becoming subservient to Irish kings. The decisive event was the battle of Tara in 980 where Olav was defeated by Máel Sechnaill II, the king of Meath. From then on the Irish regained supremacy and the Vikings were forced to pay taxes to the Irish crown. The complicated Irish society survived the Viking Age without marked changes. During the period up to 1169 the Vikings became completely integrated in Irish society and Dublin developed as a centre for specialised crafts and commerce with well-developed distribution systems and well-organised administration. Dublin became the most important town in Ireland and a large economic power centre in Western Europe. Brian Ború and Turgesius – two famous personalities Written sources dealing with the time when the Viking attacks culminated in 845 contain a pass-

ing reference to Turgesius, a Viking chieftain. It is told that he was captured in the same year and drowned in a lake by the Irish king Máel Sechnaill. No other mention is made of Turgesius. However, the name of Turgesius appears much later in a political treatise in connection with the Irish king of Munster, Brian Ború, who in 1002 became the king of all Ireland. According to the treatise, Turgesius was reputed to have seized power over the other Vikings in Ireland and founded Dublin. It was also said that he seized the abbeys in both Armagh and Clonmacnoise, assumed the position of abbot, and attempted to convert the Irish into heathen Thor worshippers. Through his gruesome deeds he allegedly became widely notorious as a ‘Super Viking’. The purpose of portraying him in this manner was, presumably, to enhance the reputation of Brian Ború and his family. Brian Ború is often spoken of as the king who finally vanquished the Vikings. He defeated them at the battle of Clontarf in 1014, but unfortunately was killed in doing so. But the Vikings were already subservient to the Irish as a result of the battle of Tara in 980. There are also indications that Brian Ború was killed by the Irish themselves in a battle with rival kings from Munster and Leinster. 131

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Anne-Christine Larsen But in this battle – as in many others – the Vikings also took part. Quotation describing an attack on Limerick by Brian Bor and his brother in 967: “they (Brian Bor and his brother) also followed them into the castle and butchered them in the streets and in their houses….They reduced the castle and the town to a cloud of smoke and to burning red flames. All prisoners were killed, and anyone suitable was made a slave.

Ireland before the Vikings Lagore, Co. Meath, an Irish rural settlement This crannog or lake dwelling is one of the most important and remarkable Late Iron Age sites in Ireland. Situated in a former lake, the site contained among other things evidence of pre-Viking material (e.g. a sword, horse-bit and pottery of the 7th-8th centuries) and also three successive palisades of posts and planks, representing three successive periods of occupation. From the first period of real occupation pottery was found together with artefacts such as a bronze disc, decorated in the manner of the Book of Durrow (7th-8th centuries). From the second and third periods of occupation there were stratified datable objects, and according to historical sources the site was apparently burnt down in 850, and then again destroyed in 934 by Olav of Dublin. Written sources, the size of the location and the variety and richness of the objects found suggest that it was the homestead of a local king. Human activity and economy at Lagore The evidence for almost all aspects of human activity at the site is prodigious. Farming is represented by twenty tonnes of bone (cattle, sheep, horse, pig, fowl, dog and cat) and agricultural tools (ploughshares, sickles, rotary querns). Hunting is represented by bone of deer, hare and bird. There is also evidence of extensive metalworking (copper ore, crucibles, moulds, tuyères, trialand motif-pieces, iron slag), glass working (glass

beads, millefiori, enamel, amber), woodworking (mallet, knives, awls, saws, nails, stave-built wooden vessels, an eight-oared dug-out and a 470 mm carved figure of a man), textile and shoe production (spindle whorls, fleece, animal hair, weaving tablet, scraps of leather and a shoe-last). In addition personal artefacts like combs, bone dice, bronze brooches, pins, strap-ends, belt buckles and lignite bracelets. Weapons like various types of iron swords, spearheads (including one of Viking type with geometric ornaments), heavy iron rings, chains and collars (indicating slave-keeping) show the more belligerent and sinister side of Lagore. The cultural meeting between the Vikings and the Irish people This pair of brooches is one of the earliest proofs of the cultural meeting between the Vikings and the Irish people – Scandinavian brooches were found and probably produced in Dublin in the Early Viking Age. Berdal brooches from Kilmainham, Dublin The two brooches were almost certainly found together in a female grave at Kilmainham in 1845. The oval brooch was the commonest type of female dress fastener during the Viking Age. Such brooches were worn in pairs and could be connected by silver chains or strings of glass and amber beads. This pair belongs to a small group known as Berdal brooches after a grave find in Norway. They are among the earliest oval brooches and only about 50 of these are known with a distribution limited to Denmark, Southern and Western Norway. The pair from Kilmainham are the only known Western European examples. In excavations at Ribe moulds for similar brooches have been found in layers from around 800. It is not certain if the Kilmainham brooches were made in Scandinavia or in the West – maybe in Dublin.

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland king settlement in Dublin and located on a ridge overlooking the river Liffey. This area is now occupied by the modern suburbs of Kilmainham and Islandbridge. Apart from the large cemeteries at Kilmainham and Islandbridge, Viking graves are not common elsewhere. They consist for the most part of single graves and their small number indicates that Viking settlement in Ireland was never as extensive as in Scotland, England or the Isle of Man. Most of the objects at Kilmainham and Islandbridge were recovered in the course of gravel digging and in the building of the railway line in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. The presence of weapons, tools and brooches among the finds indicate that both men and women were buried there. The finds recovered represent at least fifty burials, and it is the largest known Viking cemetery outside Scandinavia.

Graveslab from Killegar Cross, Co. Wicklow. Photo © Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Graveslabs These early Christian gravestones from different churches in Dublin are one of the most certain proofs of the early existence of Christianity in the area – an existence which continued in Viking Age Dublin. Viking Graves The Vikings in Ireland as elsewhere in Europe were not Christianised until the late 10th century. Their burial customs were pagan and they were buried with their personal possessions. The most important Viking cemeteries are the cemeteries at Kilmainham and Islandbridge in Dublin. They were associated with the earliest, 9th century Vi-

Viking burial from Islandbridge, Dublin Very few Viking burials in Ireland have been excavated under controlled archaeological conditions. A rare example is a male burial found in 1934 during the construction of a war memorial at Islandbridge, in the western suburbs of Dublin. The photograph shows the remains of a human skeleton. The remains were accompanied by a doubleedged iron sword and an iron spearhead. Who were they? Iron swords, arrowheads, axeheads, spearheads and shield bosses were found in men’s graves. Oval brooches, spindle whorls and bronze needle cases were typical finds in women’s graves of the Viking Age and indicate that women of importance were also buried there. The presence of a number of folding weighing scales, weights and purses indicates that some of the Viking settlers were merchants, while the iron hammers and tongs suggest the presence of smiths. Some of the brooches and pins from these burials are of Irish manufacture

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Anne-Christine Larsen

Viking burial from Islandbridge with the remains of a human skeleton, a double-edged iron sword and an iron spearhead. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

and indicate that the Vikings of Dublin, as elsewhere, adopted Irish fashions of jewellery and, perhaps, dress. Weapons and warfare The Vikings introduced the bow and axe to Irish warfare. They also introduced new forms of swords and spearheads. The long broad-bladed double edged sword was the prestige weapon, often with a highly ornate hilt and sometimes bearing a maker’s mark on the blade. Battle-axes, swords and spears were used with shields. The spear was the most important weapon and was used for both throwing and thrusting. Bows and arrows were common and many arrowhead types were related to warfare rather than hunting.

Towns and trade The founding of Dublin Dublin was first founded as a naval base in 841. So far, archaeologists have not been able to locate this base, and it is therefore not possible to give any precise information as to its character. However, it is presumed to have been a fortified camp or estate – a so-called longphort. Weighingscales and lead weights were found in the large burial ground at Islandbridge / Kilmainham: these bear witness to the fact that trade played a part in Dublin life as early as the 9th century. According to written sources, the Vikings were conquered and driven out of Dublin by Irish kings in 902. Unfortunately, the sources do not record what happened to the longphort. It was not until 15 years later that the Vikings returned to Dublin, when it was established as a fortified town – called dún in written sources. Countless artefacts and houses have been found from this period. One of the reasons Dublin was so important in the Viking Age was because of its geographic position. There was a great deal of traffic passing through the Irish Sea – travelling from Scandinavia, the Faroe Islands, the western and northern Scottish Isles to south-west England, France and Spain. Viking Age Waterford, Wexford and Cork As with Dublin, the other Viking Age Irish towns were located on relatively high ground overlooking the confluences of tidal river estuaries and their tributaries. In the town of Waterford an extensive series of houses, parts of the town defences and a unique church with an apse, dating to the late 11th and early 12th centuries have been uncovered at various sites in the town. In Wexford, excavations have revealed a sequence of timber buildings, the earliest dating from shortly after the year 1000. The Viking settlement in Cork is thought to

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland

Map of Dublin showing sites of excavations 1960-86 (after P.F. Wallace 1992, The Viking Age Buildings of Dublin. Dublin).

have been located on the south island in the River Lee but no excavated structures of Viking Age date have so far been recovered. Evidence of Viking settlements outside the towns is very rare. However there are finds of datable objects from different sites and a possible Viking settlement is known from Beginish Island, Co. Kerry. The Excavation of Dublin In the winter of 1961-62 the National Museum of Ireland began the first systematic excavation of Dublin, first under the leadership of Mr. Breandán Ó Ríordáin and later Dr. Patrick F. Wallace. The excavation took place in the area around Christchurch Cathedral – High Street,Winetavern Street, Christchurch Place, Wood Quay and Fishamble Street. The archaeological finds in Dublin have brought

us into direct contact with the Vikings. Remains of houses, graves and artefacts they used and later either lost or threw away were found in cultural layers. In the Viking Age new houses were built on top of the old, and in this way culture layers grew to be metres thick. In Dublin thousands of artefacts and the foundations of more than 150 houses were excavated from the three metre-thick culture layer. 14 different plots were identified as well as 13 different building phases from the period 920-1100. Dublin Viking Age House The typical Dublin house was a low walled, rectangular building with a doorway at either end. The main living area was a wide strip which ran between the doorways and between two raised side areas, which were often no more than raised 135

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Anne-Christine Larsen the larger version and is fitted with a single door in one of the side walls. The third is a slimmed down version of the first. There are also sunken floored structures which in Waterford and Limerick tend to be of solid timber construction. The end of the Viking Age witnessed the construction of stone walled and timber framed buildings, as found at Waterford. More flimsily constructed outbuildings probably served a variety of purposes such as tool sheds, outdoor privies, and farrowing pens. Post and wattle walling abounded; almost all buildings had internal roof supports and straw roofs, sometimes laid on straw or turf underlays. Some of the post and wattle walls were probably daubed with cow dung or mud although these are rarely found in archaeological excavations. There would have been an all-pervading stench of cooking, smoke and dampness.

Reconstruction of Dublin houses. Sketch: Michael Heffernan, The National Museum of Ireland.

seats or beds. A stone kerbed hearth was located in the middle of the floor area. There was no chimney, only a smokehole. There is no evidence of tables. People probably worked and ate while seated on the raised bench bed areas and also on stools, which were common. Chairs were rare. Floors were often covered with straw, wood shavings, and gravel. Rubbish was occasionally trampled into the floor but mostly cleared out. Sometimes the area inside the doorways was paved with flat stones laid on gravel or covered with planks. Dublin house types Archaeological excavations have yielded evidence of a half dozen different building types. The most common is that in which the floor area is divided into three longitudinal strips with a central fireplace and sometimes with raised beds along the side walls. The second type is usually associated with

Textiles and cloth production The production of wool from sheep and goats was an important activity and tools used in spinning, weaving and sewing are common. Most of the surviving cloth appears to have been of coarsely woven wool. Some finely woven worsteds are also in evidence and silk (particularly neckerchiefs and bonnets) was imported. The surviving implements include spindle whorls as well as shears and needles. Weaving tablets were used in the production of borders and braids. The only certain parts of looms to have survived are stone loom weights. Many pieces of cloth have been preserved from Dublin and research has shown that this was often exotic material of high quality â&#x20AC;&#x201C; silk moirĂŠ from Byzantium, patterned silks from Byzantium or Persia, gold thread from Central Asia. One of the Icelandic sagas tells of a woman from Dublin who brought fine bed-linen, English sheets, a silk carpet and other things so precious that their like had never before been seen in Iceland. Dress pins Stick-pins and ringed pins were produced in great

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland numbers. Ringed pins were very popular in Dublin and the Vikings adopted the dress-fastener, especially in the Viking West. Weapons and luxury goods Weapons, tableware and sets of gaming pieces were among the most prized possessions of kings and nobles in the early medieval period. In the early Viking Age most weapons come from graves. Most of our knowledge of weapons from the later Viking Age comes from stray finds of objects lost in rivers and lakes. Toys and gaming pieces, pastimes Simple things like gaming pieces were produced for general use, probably by professional woodworkers. Board games were generally popular. The typical conical gaming pieces which would have been used on them are more frequently found than the boards themselves. The gaming pieces were usually made of wood, although stone, bone and walrus ivory pieces are also known. Toys like boats were made by parents or professional woodworkers. Children also played with swords and spinning tops. Ice skating may have been more a means of transport than a sport. Food, farming and fishing Bread was the main staple in the diet of the Viking period. Cattle provided the bulk of the meat in addition to milk from which a variety of products was made. Their hides, horn and bones were used in a number of craft industries. Pigs and goats were also kept. Sheep provided wool but contributed little to the diet. Implements connected with reaping, tilling, ploughing, whaling and fishing have been found in the excavations. Shellfish were popular and fish were consumed. Fishing and hunting were also important sources of food. Wooden net floats and stone net sinkers were probably made by the fishermen who used them. There is also evidence for the raising of domes-

tic fowl. Wild birds and their eggs may have also been eaten. Barley was used to make beer, which appears to have been a Viking introduction. Wine was also important. Fruit was significant – the remains of apples, rowan, blackberries, bilberries and sloes have been found. Among vegetables only beans have so far been identified. Dublin – town and trade centre Like other Viking towns, Dublin became a centre for specialised crafts and for trading, with a highly developed distribution system and a well organised administration. The town had a large output of both articles for everyday use and handicraft products. Dublin began as a slaving emporium through which slaves who had been mainly collected at monasteries were shipped out to the wider Scandinavian world. However it gradually developed into the most important trading town in the western Viking world. Merchants bought finished goods, semi-manufactured articles and raw materials, all of which were then sold onwards. They imported goods from many different countries – e.g. walrus tusks from the North Atlantic, soapstone from the Scottish Isles or Norway, amber from Denmark and the Baltic and ceramics and salt from England (via Chester). New trade routes were opened up by the Vikings into the silver- and gold-rich markets of Byzantine and Muslim Central and Western Asia. The bullion, acquired by trade, exchange and plunder, was largely in the form of coins which were melted down and made into ornaments. Coins Silver was the great medium of exchange; much of the silver which made its way to Ireland originated as Arabic coins. About 997 Dublin started minting its own pennies, mainly for use in English ports. The earliest Irish coins were copies of contemporary Anglo-Saxon silver pennies and bore the name of Sitric, king of Dublin. 137

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Anne-Christine Larsen Amber, glass, jet, lignite and whalebone Amber, glass and stone necklaces were worn in the 10th and 11th centuries. Amber was brought to Dublin in lumps probably collected along the shores of the Baltic Sea, mainly in Denmark. These lumps were converted to beads, pendants, earrings and finger rings. An amber worker’s house was identified at Fishamble Street, where the floor was strewn with several hundred waste flakes. Lignite was carved into small rings and bracelets. Jet was probably brought from Yorkshire, and was used mainly in the production of bracelets, finger rings and earrings. It too appears to have been worked in Dublin as was glass, possibly from imported pieces of old Roman glass. Whalebone was used for clamps. Walrus ivory tusks were used for gaming pieces and pendants. Stone Stone was used in the production of grinding stones of different sizes, as well as for quernstones and whetstones, many of which were imported. Bone, antler and horn working Shed deer antlers were used to make combs. Dublin’s numerous comb-makers used the antler of the red deer and, less frequently, the bones of cattle as the raw material of their industry. Single and double-sided combs and comb cases were made from the long parts of antlers. Antler and bone were also used for knife handles, gaming pieces, buckles, strap-tags and panels for boxes and spoons. Bone was used for spindle whorls and weaving tablets. The leg-bones of horses were used for ice skates. Antler and wooden amulets and Thor’s hammers were also worn. Finger rings were made of amber, jet, copper alloy, silver and gold. Iron Blacksmiths must have been among the most numerous and valued craftsmen in Dublin. Apart from making tools for many other craftsmen they made and repaired weapons of war, rivets for

ships, agricultural tools for farmers and tools for fishermen. Agricultural implements are represented by various parts of ploughs, harvesting equipment such as sickles. Many domestic utensils were also made of iron. Gold, silver, copper and lead working Found in Dublin are tools and products of metalworkers. Although there was some casting, much effort went into hammer-finishing small objects as well as into sheet metal work such as the hammering out of weighing scales and tubes for toilet sets. Lead casting appears to have been particularly prevalent. High quality non-ferrous metalworking was particularly concentrated in the Christchurch Place area where stone and ceramic moulds, copper-alloy, lead-alloy and silver ingots, as well as lead weights and a range of crucibles were excavated. Fine metalworking and personal ornaments Ornaments of silver and gold could be afforded only by a small section of society and most personal ornaments were of copper alloy. Sometimes these were gilt to give the impression of being made from more precious metal. Many were cast in clay moulds and models in wax or lead of the object to be cast were pressed into the clay. The metal used was melted in crucibles of clay. The waste cores of rings and bracelets of lignite – a form of coal freely available in Ireland – indicate that they were carved on a lathe. Other types of ornaments, such as glass beads and bracelets and antler combs survive in large numbers but evidence for their manufacture is slight. Sometimes people wore little copper alloy toilet sets, comprising tweezers and nail- or ear-picks. Hoards, ingots and hacksilver The precious metal which was in use in Ireland during the Viking Age consisted in the main of complete ornaments. Its chief property was its weight as bullion and it was not uncommon to find ornaments and coins melted down into ingots.

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The Glendalough Monastery, Co. Wicklow. Photo © Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Ornaments and coins themselves were cut up as hack-silver and weighed on portable folding balance scales. Small quantities of silver in the form of ornaments, coins, ingots or hack-silver were buried in the ground for safety. These hoards, especially when found with coins, are an important source of dating evidence for particular forms of ornaments. Monasteries Because of their wealth, both in terms of land and precious metals, the monasteries were political and economic centres of power. They attracted talented craftsmen and artists and also became cul-

tural and artistic centres. The monasteries were the places which produced masterpieces of illumination – elaborately illuminated writing such as is found in the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Annals of Ulster. The profits from farming could feed many mouths and the larger monasteries gradually developed into monastic towns with houses and roads. In some of these towns there were many inhabitants – the number in Clonmacnoise was registered at around 1,500-2,000 in the period before the Viking invasion of Ireland. Prior to the invasion there were no regular towns as such in Ireland and in many ways the monastic towns can be compared with the later towns which were 139

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Anne-Christine Larsen established, with specialisation in craft and business. The growing power of the monasteries only served to further their attraction, not least for the many Irish kings. Some of the Irish kings attempted to take on the mantle of Abbot and thereby gain control of the settlement. Irish monasteries are associated with the 8th century ‘Golden Age’, in which sculptures, metalworking and manuscript illumination reached heights of sophistication. In practical terms the monasteries were rich controlled resources, and could afford to be patrons of the arts. Churches The first missionaries brought Christianity to Ireland as early as the 5th century. At the time of the Vikings first invasion in the 8th century there were numerous churches and monasteries around Dublin, of which the most important were in Tallaght, Clondalkin and Finglas. Several Irish churches were dedicated to Irish saints, amongst them St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, after Patrick, who founded various churches. Reliquaries The veneration of the bodies and of objects associated with saints and holy men can be traced almost to the beginnings of the Church. In Ireland, particular emphasis was laid on objects associated with saints. These consisted principally of croziers, bells and books. Most of these would have begun life as functioning liturgical objects but in time they came to be regarded as relics by virtue of their antiquity. Many were believed to have been actually used by the early saints and were given specific names. They were preserved by particular families who, as hereditary keepers of church lands, were entrusted with their care and safety. Crozier of Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly. Late 11th century and 15th century The crozier was traditionally associated with the abbots of the monastery of Clonmacnoise.

Wooden croziers are the most common of all the enshrined objects of the early Irish Church, and they were used throughout Europe in the early middle ages. The majority of the Irish examples seem to have been covered or refurbished in the 11th and 12th centuries. The use of silver and niello inlays against a plain surface is characteristic of a small group of objects from the south Irish midlands dated to the late 11th and early 12th centuries. An example is the crozier from Clonmacnoise. The crozier consists of two tubular lengths of sheet bronze lapped around a wooden staff and secured by three biconical knobs, surmounted by a curved crook. The hollow crook is cast in one piece. Both faces are covered with snake-like animals with ribbon-shaped bodies arranged in figure-ofeight patterns inlaid with strips of silver outlined with niello. These animals, with their tightly-woven knots and curled upper jaws are executed in the Irish Ringerike style. The regular disposition of these animals and the absence of tendril ornament, seem to suggest influence from the succeeding Urnes style. The rectangular drop is surmounted by a bearded human head, the hair falling to either side framing a figure of a mitred bishop. The bishop is shown in the act of slaying a monster with his crozier. This figure is in the Gothic style and can be dated to the 15th century. Four cat-like animals, the eyes set with blue glass beads, are situated below the upper knob. Roosky, Co. Donegal. A hoard of Viking silver bracelets The bracelets were found in the wall of a fort in 1966. While building a dwelling house the son of the landowner discovered four silver bracelets. The bracelets were probably found hidden in one of the interstices between the stones of the wall, as in the case of the Viking silver hoard in a similar fort called Carraig Aille II at Lough Gur, Co. Limerick. The four bracelets are of types common in Viking contexts in Europe. This type of arm-rings is

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The Exhibition – The Vikings in Ireland of Hiberno-Viking type and they were current in the period 850-950. One of the rings has a singlecharacter runic inscription – the rune R. The most likely interpretation is that the inscription is an abbreviated personal name, presumably the owner. The Soiscél Molaise shrine, Devenish, Co. Fermanagh. 1st quarter of the11th century;15th century A.D. The shrine is traditionally known as the ‘Soiscél Molaise’ shrine – the Gospels of St. Molaise – a 6th century Irish saint who founded an island monastery at Devenish. This is the earliest surviving Irish book shrine of which eight examples are known. Book shrines occur only rarely outside Ireland and in contemporary Europe, manuscripts were provided with elaborate bindings and covers. Usually book shrines consist of a wooden box with sliding lid to which decorative metal plates have been attached. Two periods of workmanship can therefore be distinguished. The shrine was made to protect an ancient Gospel book in the early 11th century and partly reembellished in the 15th. The earlier portion of the shrine consists of a bronze box, now held together by split tubular binding strips of silver, and a pair of hinged bronze mounts. One hinge terminates in an animal head and contains two triangular fields of geometric cells filled with red enamel. The shrine is covered with a series of openwork frames of gilt silver revited to the bronze with silver rivets and set with panels of gold filigree and gilt silver. One of the sides of the shrine carries an inscription in Irish: A prayer for Cennfailad successor of Molaise who caused this shrine (to be made) for… and for Giolla Baith n, goldsmith, who made (it)

Cennfailed became abbot of Devenish in 1001 A.D. and died in 1025 A.D. The four quarters contain representations of the

four evangelists – the name of each and his symbol occur in Latin along the margins. The figures of the man (Matthew) and the lion (Mark) are clothed in knee-length garments. The ox (Luke) is shown with spiralled hip and curling tail. The figure of the eagle (John) is most elaborate – a small tearshaped drop (perhaps representing blood) hangs from the curved beak. The side immediately below the main face contains a representation of an ecclesiastic in fulllength tunic and cloak. He holds a book in his left hand and a flail or aspergill in his right. The back is covered with a silver plate pierced with crosses and geometric openings revealing a sheet of gilt bronze engraved with circles and there are oval devices at the corners containing human heads and an interlaced pattern known as a ringchain. The latter is characteristic of the Viking Age Borre Style, elements of which were absorbed into Irish art in the 10th and 11th centuries. Wood Wood was used for a variety of purposes in the Viking town and was a raw material used by many different craftsmen. These included shipbuilders who made and repaired ships on the waterfront. Apart from house- and shipbuilding wood was also used in the production of tools and implements. A range of domestic utensils includes spoons and shovels which are likely to have been cheaply produced by specialist woodworkers. The woodworker made tools for himself such as planes, while turners produced bowls, plates and cups for general consumption. Handles were made for leather workers’ tools and swords were made for weavers. Decorated Wood Wood was carved in a distinctively Dublin interpretation of the insular version of the so-called Ringerike art style. This ornamentation appears on everything from large planks to small sliding case lids. It can be deeply carved, lightly scored or even done in openwork. The motive was often 141

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Anne-Christine Larsen ship is one of the most important proofs of direct contact between the Irish and the Vikings.

The small carved ship from Winetavern Street (after A.E. Christensen 1988, 14. P.F. Wallace (ed.), Miscellanea 1. Medieval Dublin Excavations 1962-81).

animals or humans. The less artistic doodles produced graffiti, among which ships were the most conspicuous. The Styles At the same time as the Ringerike style was developed in Scandinavia the Southern part of England (Winchester style) and Dublin (Dublin school) also had similar developments in style. Skuldelev 2 One example of what the Vikings brought to Irish culture is the art of ship-building. The 30 metre long warship Skuldelev 2, on permanent exhibition in the Viking Ship Museum, was built in Dublin in the 1040s and was sunk in Roskilde Fjord. This

The Ardagh Chalice 8th century A.D. The chalice was found in 1886 and represents one of the finest examples of Irish work in metal from the first millennium A.D. Liturgical vessels produced in Ireland are very rare. The Ardagh Chalice is a native rendering of a form well known from Byzantine silver hoards. It is inspired by eastern Mediterranean prototypes, but it is wholly an Irish product adapting local traditions of bowl design and decoration to the production of a liturgical vessel. The silver on the bowl is left undecorated but a magnificent applied girdle of gold filigree panels and glass studs encircles the bowl below the rim. The chalice is also decorated with glass, sheets of mica, crystal, gold filigree and kerbschnitt ornaments. The quality of the gold filigree and the art of glassworking are very high. The ornaments link it closely with the style of the Book of Kells and the chalice can be dated to the 8th century. Book of Kells Written c. 800 A.D. The Book of Kells contains the four Gospels in a Latin text. In the 12th century, charters in Irish relating to the monastery at Kells were copied into hitherto blank pages. The manuscript is distinguished in several ways from other insular Gospel books. On every page it displays an endlessly inventive range of minor decorated initials and marginal drolleries, which often refer obliquely to passages in the text. A wide range of colours is used and in addition to irongall ink (made from sulphate of iron and oak apples combined with gum and water) a black carbon ink (made from soot and lamp black) is used. The earliest mention of The Book of Kells occurs in 1007, when the Annals of Ulster record its theft from the church at Kells, Co. Meath. It was probably produced by the scriptorium of Iona or

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Lid. The filtering of Ringerike elements into Dublin through southern England seems confirmed by the box-lid (after Lang 1988, 18).

Box decorated with a combination between saltire, swastika and ring-knots (after Lang 1988, 6).

Mount with two animal heads in the Irish version of the Ringerike style (after Lang 1988, 19).

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The original Skuldelev 2 ship in The Viking Ship Museum. Photo: Werner Karrasch, The Viking Ship Museum.

written in the Columban (Columba was a key figure in Irish Christian history) monastery of Kells. It was venerated in the Middle Ages as the Great Gospel Book of Columba. Language The Vikings kept their Norse language, even though they lived and worked in Ireland. A direct parallel can be drawn with the situation today. Language, which is an important part of our cultural heritage, is something one holds on to – maybe especially when one travels from, or lives away from, one’s own homeland. But language is also under constant development and the effects that can be traced through speech patterns indicate, amongst other things, the cultural contacts people have had through the ages.

The Irish and Norse languages were very different. Even so, many Vikings learnt Irish, especially those who married into Irish families. An Irish source from the 10th century describes the speech of Nordic merchants as gic-goc. This proves that the Vikings had contact with the Irish, and attempted to speak their language – though maybe not always very successfully. Loan-words There are very few traces of the Norse language in Irish – in fact only about 20 words. Many Vikings must have had a good working knowledge of languages because of their well developed and well organised international trade connections. Trade was the most important source of income for the Vikings – and they were very good merchants.

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Loan words Irish words borrowed from Scandinavia Irsk / Irish

af / from

Engelsk / English

ábua accaire bát beirling bróg cnap erell / iarla garrdha laideng langa leagadh lunnta margadh matal pónair punnan scibeadh scilling scód scúta sess sreng stag stiúir stiúrusmann tile tochta trosc

hábora akkeri bát (Eng: bad) berling, pæl brók, hose, bukser knappr, (Eng: cnæpp) jarl gar√r lei√angr eller lei√ing langa leggja hlunnr marka√r möttull baunir binda, skipa skilling skaut skúta sess strengr stag st´yri st´yrisma√r thili tophta thorskr

oarport anchor boat warship shoe button earl yard warship long to lower (sail) oar-handle market cloak bean sheaf to equip a ship shilling sheet warship seat, bench rope stay steering oar steersman plank thwart cod

Maybe there was a Norse-inspired international trade language. It cannot be just a coincidence that most of the Norse loan-words found in the Irish language are concerned with sea-faring, fishing and trade.

Place-names The Vikings’ influence on place-names in Ireland is modest. In other areas of Viking infiltration – e.g. the Western and Northern Scottish Isles – the influence is much more evident. Here the number 145

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Nordic placenames Ballyfermot Ballygunner (tabt) Baile mhic Thorcail Baile meic Amhlaibh Ballytruckle

Baile Thormoth Baile Gunnar Curtlestown Ballally Baile Thorcail

Thormoth’s by Gunnar’s by Thorkil’s son’s by Olaf ’s son’s by Thorkel’s by

Lambay Dalkey Irelands Eye Howth

Lamba-ey Dalk-ey Inis Ereann (Erias ø) Höfthi

Lamb island Thorn island Irland’s eye (misunderstanding) Headland

Ulfreksfjör√r Strangford Carlingford Wexford Waterford Wicklow Arklow

Eng: Wulfrics fjör√r Strangr fjör√r Kerling fjör√r Ueig fjör√r Vedr fjör√r Vík ló Arnketil ló

Ulfrek’s fjord Strong (current) Old woman (the peak The Three Nuns) The waterlogged one? (island name) Wether or wind fjord Pasture by the creek (vig) Arnketil’s grassy meadow

of Nordic place-names is as much as 90% in some areas. These place-names prove that the Vikings chose to settle in fortified towns (8 place-names). A large proportion contain personal names, and there are names of islands, and names that describe the landscape. Dublin and the surrounding region were called Dyflinnar skíri in the Icelandic sagas, and the Irish called its northern area Fine Gall – land of the strangers. The name Dublin is purely Irish. The Vikings referred to their settlement here as Dubh Linn ‘black pool’, which was actually the name of the pool where they anchored their ships, where the River Poddle flowed into the Liffey. Personal names Names of different Viking leaders are mentioned in written Irish sources, and Norse names gradual-

ly became absorbed into the Irish nomenclature. Names like Amlaíb (Olaf ), Godfraid (Guthfrith), Ímar (Ivar), Ragnall (Ragnald) and Sitriuc (Sigtrygg) are found in written material from the 9th11th centuries. The meeting of cultures – the Vikings and the Irish Differences The two cultures were quite different. The Vikings came as ‘kings of the seas’ to a typical agricultural society, which to a large extent turned its back on the sea. They came with their Northern, pagan religion to a Christian society rich in monasteries and centres of learning. They came with a speech built on another family of languages and as nonliterate people to a society that had produced sophisticated manuscripts for several centuries. They came with their own traditions of nomenclature,

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The Ardagh Chalice. Photo: The National Museum of Ireland.

storytelling, dress, architecture and interior design. They came with a material culture, and with a form of expression entirely different from that of the Irish – and they looked different too! The meeting of cultures and the integration In the beginning, at the first ‘meeting of cultures’, the Vikings and the Irish were basically very different – e.g. in language and background. However, these differences were gradually modified or erased. The Vikings founded cities and the archaeological

finds give an impression of a widespread trade and communication network with links to the entire known world. In other words the Vikings lived in Dublin in a kind of international trade society, but otherwise maintained their own identity. As the cultural character grew to be Irish-Norse, Irish kings gradually became involved in the affairs of the town. The Vikings integrated into Irish society in many ways. They served as mercenaries for the Irish kings. They married Irish women – often for poli147

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Anne-Christine Larsen tical reasons. And of course they traded with the Irish. But the question remains as to whether they ever became Irish. Did the Vikings become Irish? When we refer to the Vikings in Ireland, we refer to a people that lived mainly in the towns mentioned. And we refer to a period of about 450 years. A large proportion of the Irish Vikings were born in Ireland. They spent their lives in Ireland, and they died in Ireland. Seen from a modern perspective, we are not talking about 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, but more of a 15th generation. The fact that it is reasonable to refer to this group of Northern immigrants as ‘Vikings’ over such a long period of time is because they not only maintained a close connection with their homelands, but also preserved their own cultural identity to a degree that is easily differentiated from Irish culture in the archaeological and literary material evidence. The speech of these Northern traders is often described by Irish sources as ‘gic-goc’, and it is a characteristic that the few Norse-inspired words (loan words) in the Irish language are words relevant to trade (‘marked’ and ‘penge’) and to maritime culture (‘torsk’ and some shipping terms). When the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland in 1169-1171, it is obvious that they learnt several place-names from Nordic-speaking inhabitants, and at that time it was still possible to separate a Norse element in the population of Dublin – and to award special privileges to that group of people. Church archives show that these Norse inhabitants maintained Nordic nomenclature well into the 12th century – even though the name-forms became close to Irish. In other areas, the cultural influence was more widespread. The Vikings soon converted to Christianity, but since this also happened in Scandinavia, it is hard to say whether it was as a direct result of meeting Irish Christianity or not. Maybe the

conversion of Scandinavia came about because of Ireland, and perhaps our national symbol, the Stone of Jelling, was inspired by the Irish literary tradition. There are elements of cross-influences in both art and stylistic expression. Irish metalwork shows a direct stylistic influence from the Northern style of ornamentation – one of the finest examples being the Clonmacnoise crozier, on display in the exhibition – and Irish form and ornamentation can be seen on Viking archaeological finds in Scandinavia. The Vikings adopted the Irish dress-pin – the ringed pin – which is found in metalwork production both in Dublin and also spread throughout the entire Scandinavian and North Atlantic regions. The time of fundamental changes in both societies The time of the Viking presence in Ireland was a time in our common history that represents a series of forceful changes in society and cultural patterns – in Denmark the state formation process, the building of towns, conversion to Christianity, and expansion. The Vikings went out into the world and their presence set distinct traces of their origins; in a similar way they returned home with cultural impulses from the new worlds they encountered. In the various regions in which they settled, they maintained their own cultural identity over a period of several hundred years. Seen in this light, the Viking expansion and settlement in Ireland can offer a historical dimension to the current debate on the integration and development of multicultural societies. The Vikings can be compared on many levels with immigration groups of the present day, and their history in Ireland can serve as an historic example of the potential and the dynamic possible in the meeting of widely differing cultures.

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 Years Ulrik Federspiel, Danish ambassador to Ireland 1997-2000 (1)

At present, there are no available accounts of the Danish-Irish relations throughout the ages. Therefore, I have been given the excellent opportunity to describe these relations briefly, as The Viking Ship Museum wishes to round off this book with such a description. In this delineation I am trying to turn a first and cautious sod and hopefully it will encourage others, more scientifically orientated researchers, to go further. 1000 years ago Denmark and Ireland experienced their closest contact, and today the relations between our two countries are close once again. In between these two periods of time the contact has been relatively weak and sporadic. Great Britain has so to speak put our contact into the shade; she came between us. In the meantime, we have both, each in our own way, had close contact to England. Furthermore, the Danish perception of Ireland was in those days influenced by the fact that we, to a certain degree, saw Ireland through the eyes of the British, as our two countries did not have any direct and close contact. In a letter from the 1950s the following view is described: ‘…the perception (of Ireland) which, by and large, exists in this country (Denmark) is too highly influenced by the fact that the non-detached England has served as our intermediate link’ (2).

The earliest contact The prehistoric contact between Denmark and Ireland is an issue which has been the subject of much disagreement among researchers. The president of the Royal Irish Society, Dr. Michael Herety, believes that it is impossible to exclude the existence of contact between Sweden-Denmark and Ireland several thousand years ago. He has based his opinion on the findings of potsherds. The Gundestrup Vessel is another possible example because it pictures Cochulainn, the most famous warrior from Irish mythology. Naturally, it would be interesting to know why this 2300 yearold vessel ended up in Denmark. However, the vessel is not substantial proof to establish that direct contact between Denmark and Ireland has been a reality. In fact the circumstances of the origin of the Gundestrup Vessel and its techniques of ornamentation are typical Thracian. However, Thrace, present-day Rumania and Bulgaria, had many common traits and adjoining territories with the Celts, and there are numerous examples of Thracian craftsmen being influenced by the Celts. In those days and previously, the Irish culture was highly developed. Around 2500 BC the Irish built large grave mounds which today give evidence of considerable craftsmanship and en149

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Ulrik Federspiel

Reconstruction model of the Skuldelev 2 ship. Photo: Werner Karrasch, The Viking Ship Museum.

gineering skills. These grave mounds were built at the same time as the Danish barrows, which however, seem to be at a somewhat different level culturally. UNESCO has compared the Irish grave mounds, of which Newgrange and Knowth are the most distinguished, with the pyramids and the grave mounds are believed to be even slightly older than these. The Viking Age marks the next interesting epoch regarding the Danish-Irish relation. The invasion of the first – presumably Norwegian – Vikings has been dated back to 795. The arrival of the Vikings brought an end to a very rich era in Irish history, the golden age. This era began circa 550, when the monasteries sprouted in Ireland and the Irish monks and missionaries left for Europe, where they worked as teachers in monasteries. The Irish were skilled in the art of writing and manuscript illumination, which for example the Book of Kells, one of the oldest manuscripts in the world, certifies. The Vikings’ invasion and settlement in Ireland are still the subject of research. However, there is no

doubt that the invasion of the Vikings marks the first substantial meeting between the Danes and the Irish. The Danes played a part in founding all the major, still existing, cities in Ireland such as Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick. Previously, Ireland was inhabited throughout the country with petty kings, who were fighting among themselves. The Vikings’ presence in Ireland has been proved in the shape of excavations, and even today the Viking Age is quite vivid to the individual Irishman, who has acquired a certain knowledge about this era in school. In particular, the Irish seem to remember a certain battle, which they believe, was decisive. The battle took place in 1014 in Clontarf, now a suburb to Dublin, and there one of the Irish kings, the legendary Brian Boru, defeated the Vikings. Boru was killed during the battle and brought to Armagh in Northern Ireland where he was buried in one of the two cathedrals carrying similar names; Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Today, the cathedral is the archiepiscopal see of the Anglican Church of Ireland and by Boru’s grave is a

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years stone, on which it is written that Brian Boru drove the Danes out of Ireland but was killed in the battle. However, the Danes did not leave Ireland on this occasion. Presumably, they integrated into the Irish society, and from a written source we have learnt that one Viking chief even married an Irish princess from Knowth. The finding of the to date biggest Viking ship, Skuldelev 2, which was found in Roskilde Fjord, indicates definitely that there had been some sort of contact between the Danish Vikings and the Irish after 1014. The ship was built of Irish wood in 1042, repaired in the 1060s and then obviously sailed to Denmark. There is probably no doubt that the Irish perception of the Vikings is partly true for as heathens they robbed the rich monasteries. When an Irish king in the beginning of the 14th century wanted to describe the iniquity of the British in Ireland he wrote that they were ‘more wicked than the inhuman Danes themselves’ (Lydon 1998). There are always two sides to the story; the Vikings brought along improved agricultural techniques, and there is no doubt that trade between Ireland, Scandinavia and Western Europe developed too. Simultaneously, a development of the Vikings’ and the Celts’ art took place, and in this case the Irish influence was probably the strongest. In that respect it is interesting that the symbol, which is often perceived as crucial to the foundation of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Runic Stone from Jelling, dated to the beginning of the 10th century, is decorated with a type of Celtic art. The particular type of art found on the Runic Stone from Jelling is similar to the one, which can be seen on the famous high crosses, the so-called Saint Bridget crosses, in Ireland. Also, the sterns on the Viking ships carried the unmistakable mark of Celtic influence just like the Vikings’ jewellery. The foundation of the Irish nation, as an independent identity with one or several over-kings, is also considered to have taken place at this point in

The larger of the two Jelling stones. Photo: Inga Aistrup, Royal Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

time. As previously mentioned, it was likewise in this period that the Irish cities were partly founded by the Vikings. The Middle Ages The epoch following the Viking Age is, in relation to the Danish-Irish relations, characterised by darkness. Shortly after the Vikings’ departure or integration into the Irish culture the Normans invaded Ireland. If one wishes to trace the Norman lineage way back, it reveals a Scandinavian element, as the Normans were descended from Scandinavian emigrants in Northern France. Apart from this, the Danish-Irish relations seem to be very indirect and sporadic. It is quite possible that Irish missionaries living in France or Germany could have visited Denmark and also that Irish monks, after Christianity (Catholicism) was introduced in Denmark, were in contact with Danes in mona151

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Ulrik Federspiel steries abroad. However, our sources do not confirm this. The 16th and 17th centuries The tendency of the Middle Ages was carried on into the following centuries, and it appears that the Irish and the Danes rarely met. After the Danish Reformation in 1536, Denmark and Ireland found themselves on either side of the religious conflict, which dominated the Continent. If any kind of contact existed in those days it was probably violent. Following the clash between Henry VIII and the Catholic Church and the resulting conversion to Protestantism, Ireland was officially part of a Protestant empire. Nevertheless, the majority of the Irish population was still Catholic and found allies in the Catholic powers on the Continent. As a result of the unsuccessful participation of Christian IV in the Thirty Years’ War it is likely that Danish troops met the Irish in the Catholic League’s service, however, this has not left any direct vestiges in history. Later in the 16th century there is solid proof of Danish-Irish contact but once again it was an unfortunate encounter. The confrontation, ending in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, between the dethroned James II and his nephew William of Orange, was influenced by a large Danish contingency, which played a major role. Through negotiations in London and Copenhagen, William and Christian V had entered into an agreement according to which 6,000 Danes were to be sent to Ireland to fight against the Catholics. As the Danes arrived in Belfast in March 1690 William’s commandant, Schomberg, was well pleased as the Danes were ‘Lusty Fellows, well clothed and armed!’ William had hired a total of three cavalry regiments and nine infantry battalions, which made up one fourth of the regular Danish army. The Danes were fit and according to legend the Irish were frightened by the recollection of the Vikings’ havoc, and it is said that at the Battle of the Boyne the Irish could be heard to cry ‘Oh Lord in heaven, that is Danish men! Oh, God

save our life!’ Despite the religious harmony among the Danish and English troops, the Danes were astounded by William’s relentlessness towards the Catholics on several occasions. The Danish Commander-in-chief, Würtemberg, asked William numerous times, if he would not just accept the Catholics’ rights as he had the opportunity to end the battle with a stroke of the pen. To the Danish King political – and pecuniary – considerations were prized above religion, and simultaneously with the engagement in Ireland, a Danish regiment was fighting for Louis XIV in France. The Danish regiments included Catholics and some of them deserted to fight with the Irish. The deserters were offered two Louis d’ors and sent by ship to France, where they were enrolled into the army of Louis XIV. Incidentally, the Danish officers included a certain colonel Johan Didrick von Haxthausen, commandant of the Queen’s ‘Lif ’ Regiment and ancestor of my predecessor in Dublin. The Danish soldiers were worthy associates of William and participated in all the major battles – often with successful outcome. It was not until March 1692 that the soldiers left Ireland to take part in the military operations on the Continent, and they finally returned to Denmark in 1698 although greatly reduced in numbers. In this connection it should be mentioned that as an offshoot of the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland in April 1998 it was agreed that a monument, a museum or the like should be situated where the battle took place. The Irish State has just acquired the area of the Boyne Valley north of Dublin, where the battle was fought, with a view to making the area accessible to the public. The 18th century Present day nationalism was not fully born in the 17th and 18th century and thus it was not unusual that more than half of the ‘Danish’ troops in Ireland in 1690-92 were foreigners: particularly German officers and Polish, Swedish and German mercenaries. Correspondingly, the Danish army in the

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years Dano-Swedish Wars in the mid 17th century and the Great Nordic War at the beginning of the 18th century included a number of Irish soldiers. Following the Great Nordic War, Denmark entered an era of peace, in which the international trade began to prosper. Thus, this epoch is characterised by reports from the 1780s prepared by the Danish honorary consul Thomsen in Dublin and later, around 1794, by reports from Thomsen’s successor consul Eskildsen. On a monthly basis, Eskildsen prepared reports on Danish ships calling at Dublin and those ships’ cargo. Some of the ships were part of the Atlantic salt and wine trade (most likely products of France) but the cargo of the majority was timber from the Baltic, shipped, among others, Hornbæk Timber Merchant. The purpose of the consul’s reports to the General Land Oeconomie & Commerce Collegium in Copenhagen was first and foremost to provide trade statistics; however, the reports also included some political comments. In this way, the consul mentioned in 1800 that the country was experiencing ‘bad times’, food was expensive and ‘I fear a major confrontation, and in the event of a French landing, the country will probably be separated from England’. The Irish, led by Wolfe Tone, had rationally persuaded Napoleon to support an Irish revolution. However, several attempts to land French troops in Ireland failed, and the Irish were forced to attempt the rising themselves in 1798 – though in vain. Instead Ireland was, by the Act of Union 1800, incorporated into what became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on which occasion Irish self-rule was cancelled. Therefore, the Irish alliance with Napoleon was just as disastrous as the Danish one. As previously mentioned, Danish exports to Ireland primarily consisted of timber, and it is therefore only natural that reports from the Danish consulate ceased in 1806. At this time, Denmark found herself in a serious crisis centred on timber, both for fuel and shipbuilding. The growth of the population and a general lack of care for the

forests, had reduced the Danish forests disastrously, and the encounter with the English in 1801 and 1807, which resulted in almost total destruction of the Danish navy, put paid to any possible export of timber. At this time, the Irish forests were likewise reduced and were almost completely cut down in order to provide timber for the building of British warships – which among others were made to fight the Danes! The Irish timber was just as good as in the Viking Age, when, as mentioned, it was used to build the Skuldelev ship. The shipping trade of the 18th century also left other marks than the direct trade with Ireland. At the end of 1782 the frigate ‘Bornholm’ set sail for the West Indies with Mathias de Bille as its captain. From the very beginning, the voyage was characterised by bad luck, miserable weather and a crew marked by illness. In the beginning of January 1782, the frigate lost manoeuvrability as a result of the damage a storm had caused, and Bille and his crew drifted out of control near Ireland. As a combination of the crew’s skills and primarily sheer good luck, the ship found shelter in Clew Bay and the crew took lodgings in Newport. As bad luck would have it, the majority of the crew, including the captain, died shortly after. Today, the only memorial is a plaque, which Bille’s grandson, Torben de Bille, the then Danish envoy in London, had set up in the local church in 1876. Half a century previously, something similar had happened: in 1730 the ship ‘Den Gyldne Løve’, (The Golden Lion) in command of captain John Heitman and on its way to Trankebar, was exposed to a heavy storm and drifted ashore on the Irish west coast in Co. Kerry. The ship’s silver treasure that should have been used as payment for goods in Trankebar, was stolen by a group of local Irishmen and brought about a considerable scandal and several court cases. Captain Heitman did not return to Denmark until 1740. In the mid 18th century in Dublin, a protestant church was established to serve ‘the foreign Protestants who either trade or live here’ and the Danes 153

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Ulrik Federspiel made up the great majority of this Protestant community. Around 1780 the Danish Rev. Fangel complained that the pay was not satisfactory and neither he nor his successor, Rev. Olaf Møller, found the conditions acceptable. Both priests were born and had qualified in Holstein. At present, Dublin only counts one (German) Protestant church, and in more recent times, only one Danish service has been held. The service, held by the Danish priest in London, took place in 1998 on the occasion of the Royal Danish visit by Prince Joachim and Princess Alexandra. The 19th century As became the case in the 20th century, agricultural exchange between Denmark and Ireland took place in the 19th century. In 1845-49, Ireland was plagued by famine caused by the potato blight ‘Phytophthora infestans’ which was unknown at the time, and experts from the Danish Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University travelled to Ireland to carry out research. The famine had a profound effect on the Irish nation, which prior to the potato blight made up approximately 8 million inhabitants. As a result of the famine, the population was reduced by 4 million; 2 million people died and another 2 million emigrated. At the same time and encouraged by the King, the Danish researcher into prehistory, Mr Jens Worsaae, travelled to England and Ireland in order to map out Scandinavian relics on the British Isles. Mr Worsaae’s work resulted in two reports to ‘The Royal Irish Academy’ (1846) and the book ‘Minder om de Danske og Nordmændene i England, Skotland og Irland’ (1851). In 1995, a number of letters and notes from Mr Worsaae’s travels were published in English under the title: ‘Viking Ireland: Jens Worsaae’s Accounts of His Visit to Ireland 1846-47’ (ed. Henry David). A few years later, circa 1855-65, Oscar Wilde’s parents spent quite a while travelling Europe on which occasion they visited Denmark. At Thorvaldsens Museum in Denmark, Lady Wilde bought

copies of Thorvalden’s ‘Four Seasons’, which consist of four classic reliefs portraying both the four seasons of the year and man’s four ages. These reliefs decorated the Wilde house at Merrion Square where the American College is now housed, and they can still be seen in the reception area of the college. At the end of the 18th century, the Danish literary scholar, Holger Pedersen, visited the Aran Islands, where he became familiar with numerous stories told by the local storyteller, Martin Conneely. In 1994, these stories were published in Gaelic, edited by Ole Munch-Pedersen, who spoke Gaelic like Holger Pedersen. In addition to the stories, Holger Pedersen collected several songs, sayings and riddles and he published a dictionary of the local Aran Island dialect. Dr. Feilberg followed up on Holger Pedersen’s research at the beginning of the 20th century. Dr. Feilberg and in particular Swedish researchers took an active part in founding an Irish folklore collection, which still exists and constitutes the foundation at the faculty of Irish folklore at University College Dublin. A considerable number of Irish people migrated to the West Indies at the time of Danish rule, and a certain intercourse between the Irish and the Danes took place there. One of the Irish, Edmund Bourke, became a Danish diplomat and represented Denmark at the negotiations on the Kieler Treaty in 1814, after the Napoleonic wars when the union between Norway and Denmark ended. Likewise, contact between Denmark and Ireland existed in the shape of intermarriage into the English Royal Family. The then Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII married in 1863 Alexandra, the daughter of the European royal families’ father-in-law, King Christian IX’. She visited Ireland several times and stayed at Dublin Castle, which she decorated with copies of Thorvaldsen’s work. Apparently, she was very much liked and it is said that she was interested in Ireland in general. A son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Prince Arthur or the Duke of Connaught married a German Princess. Their daughter, Princess Margaret

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The Irish bridal veil worn by Princess Alexia daughter of Queen Anne-Marie. Photo: NORDFOTO.

married the future King of Sweden, King Gustav VI Adolf. Ingrid, their first child later married the future King of Denmark, Frederik IX. Queen Ingrid’s grandmother, whose husband was GovernorGeneral of Ireland, was interested in the famous Irish art of lace making, and she participated actively in the society for the preservation of this culture. When her daughter, Princess Margaret, married the future Swedish King, a bridal veil was given to her by Irish ladies. This bridal veil has been worn by all the succeeding Danish princesses. These princesses include Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe II, Princess Benedikte, Queen Anne-Marie and their daughters. Prior to the Irish independence By all appearances, there has hardly been any contact between Denmark and the first Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament). Denmark did nothing to

support the Irish fight for independence in the conflict between Great Britain and Ireland. This has to be seen in the light of Denmark’s own colonies and the fear of their possible wish to show similar efforts. However, the Irish sought to defend themselves against the British viewpoints as they were fighting for recognition of Ireland as an independent state. In the summer of 1921, Irish material was translated into Danish and consequently distributed by the unofficial Irish consul in Copenhagen, Mr Gerald O’Loughlin. As Mr O’Loughlin was subsequently called to account to the Danish police authorities and had to promise to end the campaign, he tried to organise a committee of locals to do the work. Most likely, this did not have any great effect, as the Irish knew that ‘reports go to show that Denmark is almost the most proEnglish country in Europe’.

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Ulrik Federspiel The younger days of the Republic Succeeding the establishment of the Irish Free State and the independence from Great Britain in 1922, a gradual improvement of the contact to Denmark took place. However, no specific event marked the year when Denmark acknowledged Ireland as an independent state. Diplomatic relations were not established at that time and like other Commonwealth countries, Ireland used the British diplomatic representatives in the countries, where the Irish State was not represented. In this way, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (then Ministry of External Affairs) approached the British diplomatic representative in Copenhagen who, on behalf of Ireland, put possible questions before the Danish authorities. Any answers went from the Danish authorities through the British diplomatic representative to ‘the Secretary of State for the Colonies’ in London and finally to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. Thus, communication was fairly complicated, and it is no wonder that most of the approaches were by routine. However, a certain interest in Danish administration and the Danish agricultural development can be traced in the inquiries. Despite the fact that the Irish, to a high degree, had adopted the British administrative system, it is possible to sense a desire for reform and change. For example, the Irish Department of Agriculture inquires into what means the Danish Government had used to advance the agricultural production and trade, and the Department expressed a wish to be kept up to date on the most recent developments in this field. Correspondingly, the Irish Department of Health inquires into how the nation’s health problems were administered and more specifically if it would be possible to obtain information on, for example, treatment of tuberculosis and free medical treatment of the poor. Thus, our sources seem to indicate that in the 1920s and 30s there was a basis for a certain export of knowledge from Denmark to Ireland, which in particular included the agricultural industry. It

is likewise characteristic of the Irish attitude that a certain Dr. Cleary in 1925 published an article, which praised the Grundtvig folk high schools that according to the professor had constituted the basis for the Danish agricultural development: ‘The fact that our country is being outdistanced in the agricultural race was brought painfully home by the last trade statistics. Naturally men’s attention was fixed on Denmark, the wholly successful competitor’.

The most similar counterpart to the Danish folk high schools were the so-called Irish Colleges, where the students were taught Irish and Irish music, though they were not aimed at the agricultural industry. In order to advance a similar favourable development as in Denmark, the professor encouraged these colleges to offer courses during the winter, and not as previously during the summer, so that the agriculturists would be able to participate. From the beginning of the century and through the 1920s and 30s, Ireland has shown a great interest in Danish agriculture and forestry, and the then Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction published a number of articles on these topics. It is interesting that the Irish, to such a degree, turned to their competitor in the English market, namely Denmark, in order to seek advice. In the inter-war period, Irish agriculture succeeded in modernising and streamlining the production, but in the English market the Irish agricultural products were never a considerable threat to Denmark. In co-operation with the then agricultural adviser in London, Mr Harald Faber, Danish producers succeeded in building up a considerable image of Danish products in England, and as far as the English consumers were concerned Danish bacon, butter, ham and eggs were still a symbol of quality. Though at the beginning of the 1930s, Ireland enjoyed the advantage of her membership of the Commonwealth, as England ended the free trade policy and introduced import restrictions on goods produced outside the Commonwealth.

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years Denmark was also in other ways looked upon as a model by some of the politicians in the Irish Free State. The Irish Government, led by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ernest Blythe, was leading the way in the first long period of tight fiscal policy and managed to reduce public expenditure from £ 42 million in 1923-24 to £ 24 million in 1926-27. Only a few politicians opposed this policy and did it by referring to the Danish model. The Danish level of taxation was approximately 30 per cent higher than the Irish, and the Danes financed their national debt through foreign loans and spent more than twice the amount, measured in percentage, on education and social welfare payments than the Irish. As a miracle the Danes survived this ‘irresponsible’ policy and furthermore, comparisons with Ireland showed that Denmark experienced a strong economic growth. However, this fact made no effect on the leading Irish politicians, who continued a tight fiscal policy. The first years of Irish independence and civil war, which was fought among the pro and anti treaty supporters, were vividly described by the Danish author, Nis Petersen, in his book ‘Spildt Mælk’ (published in English in 1953 titled ‘Spilt Milk’). In the years 1932-34 Nis Petersen visited Ireland twice. He spent the first visit in Waterford and the second in Dublin and Enniskerry. He portrays De Valera as ‘the man of death’ and responsible for the civil war, and the publication of the book raised an outcry in Ireland which resulted in the fact that the book was censured. In 1955 the Danish author and feature writer, Cai Clausen, who had visited Ireland himself, published a review of Nis Petersen’s book in the publication ‘Irland og Nis Petersen’ (Ireland and Nis Petersen), in which he was very critical towards Nis Petersen’s interpretation of Irish history. According to Cai Clausen, Nis Petersen lacked an understanding of Irish history and culture, and more than anything else his perception of Ireland was based on an English view: ‘his preconceived ideas originated primarily from Kipling and not Pádraic Pearse’. However, Cai

Clausen’s perception of Ireland was not particularly positive either. In a feature article in Berlingske Tidende in 1956 Ireland was, as a result of Irish legislation on censorship, described as ‘A nation in celibacy’ and ‘The account of Irish culture in general is an account of a development stopped in its growth phase. These people show characteristic features, not virginity but something spinsterish and immature’. Another Danish author, Signe Toksvig, lived in Ireland at the same time as Nis Petersen (Pihl 1995). Signe Toksvig was born in Denmark but grew up in the United States, where she qualified from Cornell University in 1916. In 1918 she married the Irish-born Francis Hackett, who co-founded the periodical ‘New Republic’ in which Signe Toksvig had her articles published. In 1926 the couple moved to Ireland, where they stayed until they left for Denmark in 1937. They did not approve of the censorship, which was their reason for leaving Ireland. In 1937, Signe Toksvig’s novel ‘Eve’s Doctor’, which later was called her ‘gynaecological’ novel, was published, but because of its view on birth control the book was censored by the Irish authorities. In the same period of time, another Dane, Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen, settled in the Faroe Islands. His well-known novel ‘Barbara’ of which a film version has been made, tells the story of a real person. This person Barbara, alias Estrid Good, met, during a vacation in Ireland in the 1950s, an Irish fisherman whom she married. The couple settled in Cork where, in January 2000, Estrid Good died in her late nineties. Just before Signe Toksvig and Francis Hackett left Ireland for Denmark, James Joyce visited Copenhagen. James Joyce had great expectations of his three weeks of holiday, as from an early age he had taught himself Danish in order to be able to read Ibsen’s writings in the original. According to journalist and author Ole Vinding, who, on the pretext of being a painter, took Joyce and his wife Nora for a tour of the city, Joyce was considerably 157

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Ulrik Federspiel disappointed in Denmark. In spite of good products, the food was bad and boring and service was poor in the Danish restaurants. Joyce’s original plan of renting a house in Copenhagen the following summer was never carried through. However, Danish literary personalities such as Kai Friis Møller, Valdemar Rørdam and Tom Kristensen were also interested in Ireland and wrote about the country in the 1920s and 30s. Ireland since the Second World War As already mentioned, Danish agriculture had a certain influence on the development of Irish agriculture. However, the two structures differed fundamentally, as Danish agriculture, prior to the Second World War, had already been modernised and mechanised in comparison with the Irish. This gap was further widened after the war, as Danish agriculture in the 1950s found itself in a crisis. The crisis led to a further mechanising, rationalisation and broadening of the market for agricultural products and this process did not happen in Ireland. Danish agriculture had been a jumpingoff ground and a driving force in relation to industrial development, but a similar development did not happen in Ireland, which in this respect remained old-fashioned. In recent years cooperation between the Danish Agency for Forestry and its Irish counterpart has developed with a view to re-developing the Irish forests. In 1960, the responsibility for promotion of industrial design was placed on the Irish Chamber of Commerce (the then ‘Córas Tráchtála’). Córas Tráchtála found it natural to turn to a group of Scandinavians in order to let them help assess the Irish standard within this field. This contact led to the setting up of ‘The Scandinavian Design Group’ counting one Swede, two Finns and three Danes, who spent two weeks in Ireland in the spring of 1961. The result of the trip to Ireland was the report ‘Design in Ireland’ which described the individual fields, in which Ireland had enough poten-

tial to develop designs with a view to promotion of exports. As one would probably guess, these particular fields were first and foremost those inspired by traditional Celtic design. Some of the members of the group, including Dr. Herløv from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, settled in Kilkenny in Ireland, where he founded a design centre. However, the centre was later dissolved but it is now reestablished and this time under Irish management. Today, an abundant collection of information on the epoch of the 1960s can be found in the Design Centre in Temple Bar in Dublin. Ireland’s probably first designer of clothes, Mr Ib Jørgensen, was Danish-born but settled in Ireland. What really increased the contact between Denmark and Ireland – and was just as great a catalyst as the Viking Age – was the two countries’ first application for admission to the then EEC. Therefore, the Irish Government decided to apply for establishment of diplomatic relations with Denmark in September 1961. Subsequently, the Danish authorities were approached, and they approved of Irish representation in Copenhagen and Danish representation in Dublin. It was not until the autumn of 1962 that the official diplomatic relations were established when the Irish ambassador in The Hague, Mr James Wilfred Lennon, presented his credentials to King Frederik IX. Although it was decided to accredit a representative from The Hague, Mr Robert McDonagh, who later became Secretary General of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, was posted to Denmark as chargé d’affaires. Likewise the Danish ambassador in London, Mr Niels Svenningsen, was accredited to Dublin but Denmark did not choose to post a diplomat to Ireland. This decision was reached partly for economic reasons, partly because Denmark had an excellent honorary consul general, managing director for Kosangas, Mr Jørgen Tholstrup, in Dublin at the time. As early as 1949, after the Irish secession from the Commonwealth and the establishment of an

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years independent Irish Republic, Denmark had already applied for agreement for the Danish ambassador in London, Count Reventlow. However, the Irish announced that they preferred to let some time pass before answering the application ‘so that the extension of diplomatic relations did not grow too rapidly’. Afterwards, in the course of a relaxed dinner conversation, an official from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs disclosed that the reason for the delay actually was Irish dissatisfaction with the Danish Government, as it had not concluded a trade agreement with Ireland. However, this was not the only reason. Because of the difficult relationship between Ireland and Great Britain, the Irish found it complicated to accept that the Danish ambassador in London was accredited to Ireland. This position did not change until 1961. For other reasons, the Danish ambassador in London was not very keen on the idea of being accredited to Ireland. Count Reventlow and his successor in London, Niels Svenningsen, were both in principle against the idea of having to represent Denmark in Ireland from the position in London, as the workload was already heavy. They were of the opinion that such an arrangement would only result in a second-rate attendance to Danish interests in Ireland. Therefore, Niels Svenningsen suggested that either the ambassador in The Hague or Reykjavik, rather than the ambassador in London, should attend to Ireland. As to accrediting a representative from Reykjavik, Niels Svenningsen argued for one thing that ‘the ambassador in Reykjavik would find it a pleasant break, particularly during the winter, to spend a couple of weeks in a mild climate like the Irish, also… that in certain respects, the reason for diplomatic work in Ireland could perhaps be seen to resemble that in Iceland. Both countries are island states, which had gained independence relatively late’. Despite weighty arguments, the Danish Foreign Ministry maintained the idea of accrediting a representative from London primarily because the Irish legal and economic structures were Anglo-

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark signing the treaty with the European Communities on October 11, 1972. The event took place at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen. Next to the Queen prime minister Mr. Anker Jørgensen. Photo: Elfelt, Royal Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Saxon and because the country’s foreign trade primarily was focused on Great Britain. As Ireland finally gave way and accepted an accredited representative from London it would be inappropriate to suggest accrediting a representative from either The Hague or Reykjavik. With an ambassador being accredited to Ireland the official relations between the two countries increased. In May 1966, Per Hækkerup was the first Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs to pay Ireland an official visit. Per Hækkerup met President De Valera, the Taoiseach (Séan Lemass) and his Irish colleague. The primary topic of the talks was the possible Irish entry into EFTA, which Per Hækkerup greatly supported. 159

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Ulrik Federspiel As Denmark and Ireland entered into the EEC in 1973, we decided to upgrade our diplomatic relations so that an ambassador would reside in each of our countries. Thus a Danish embassy, headed by a Danish ambassador, was established in 1973 in Dublin. Shortly after the setting up of the embassy, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, K. B. Andersen, paid a visit to Dublin. Denmark was already prepared to set up an embassy in Dublin in 1969-70. Consideration of the Government finances was the only reason for the delayed decision. The Danish Ministry of Finance had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cut expenditure, and as a result the establishment of an embassy in Dublin had to be postponed irrespective of the consideration of the bilateral diplomatic relations. At the end of April 1978, Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik paid Ireland the first Danish state visit, which aroused great Irish interest in Denmark. Correspondingly, the then Irish President, Dr Patrick Hillary, visited Denmark in MayJune 1983, on which occasion the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry, met his Danish colleague Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. From this point in time, the Danish and Irish Ministers of Foreign Affairs have visited each other quite regularly. Of more recent royal visits to Ireland I can mention that Prince Henrik, on board the ‘Dannebrog’, (The Danish Royal Yacht) visited Ireland in 1990 in connection with a sailing race and again in 1991, as he attended a meeting in Europa Nostra. In order to participate in scouts’ conferences, Princess Benedikte has visited Ireland twice, in 1994 and 1999 respectively. At both visits the Irish President received the Princess. In October 1998, Prince Joachim and Princess Alexandra visited Ireland in connection with a promotion of Danish culture, which was called ‘Out of Denmark’ and again the President received the royal visitors. It is not the intention to account for similarities and differences in Irish and Danish foreign policy but the following is a quote from a note which was

prepared in 1964 in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs: ‘The foreign policies of our two countries have a number of significant features in common. Both our countries are committed to the objective of world peace founded on the rule of law. We have both sought to contribute to the relaxation of international co-operation and unity….(and work) for the maintenance of international peace and security and for the evolution of the world community into a new society knit together by a common respect for the rule of law and the principles of international justice’.

It is hard to find similarities between our two states in the time prior to the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922: Denmark has a long and independent history and for a long period of time she was an expanding country with overseas territories and a great power. Ireland was not independent and marked by internal struggle and without any hereditary organisation of state. There have also been some differences in the religious field, as Denmark, subsequent to the Reformation, joined hands with the enemy as far as the Irish were concerned. Following the independence gained in 1922 there was a movement toward a higher degree of similarity. At this time, Denmark was reduced to a geographically and economically vulnerable small state situated between Germany and England both strategically and with a view to export, and previous times’ world power manners were replaced by a policy, which at that time was perceived as neutral. In the following years, the small State policy was extended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, P. Munch, who, on the basis of both practical policies and ideology in relation to Danish foreign policy, favoured the neutrality and the work in the League of Nations. This policy coincided in particular with the Irish efforts that succeeded De Valera’s assumption of power in 1932. In contrast to the Danish neutrality policy, the Irish policy was less explicit until the beginning of World War II, and its characteristics were rather that of a mani-

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years

Prince Joachim and Princess Alexandra visited Ireland in connection with ‘Out of Denmark’. Photo: Keld Navntoft, NORDFOTO.

festation in order to make the independence clear than a necessary security policy. The League of Nations’ trends were continued in the EEC, where both Denmark and Ireland made their mark on for example the field of human rights and gave priority to participation in peacekeeping forces. Traditionally, Ireland has been the country in the UN with whom Denmark has agreed most. Likewise, Denmark and Ireland have co-operated on several crucial points in the EEC/EU which the following example shows. Ireland and Denmark joined The European Community as of 1st January 1973. As newcomers they were faced with the many-sided problems associated with membership and safeguarding of political, economical and industrial interests. Both

countries supported the Common Agricultural Policy as net exporters of agricultural products and soon discovered the value of co-ordination between like-minded countries. Denmark assumed its first presidency in the second half of 1973 and Ireland got its baptism of fire in the first half of 1975. The two countries tried to help each other with all the organisational and administrative problems which occurred in the time of their presidencies. According to neutral observers they passed the test. For Ireland the most difficult item was undoubtedly the British budget problem. For various reasons Ireland and Denmark both wanted to find a fast solution to this problem. Both had joined the European Community alongside the UK and did not want the boat to capsize so to speak. This 161

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Ulrik Federspiel triggered off a useful co-ordination between the two countries, and this co-ordination was crowned with a successful outcome during the meeting of the Heads of State and Government in spring 1975 at Dublin Castle. The ‘baby’ was named after its hometown and entered the jungle of EU jargon under the name ‘The Dublin Mechanism’. As it appears from this account of Danish-Irish relations, very little official contact has taken place throughout the ages, which at first was because of Ireland’s status in relation to England. In more recent times, i.e. after 1922, the Irish foreign policy and its low administrative profile have also played a major role. Subsequent to the creation of the Free State in 1922, Ireland established diplomatic representation in Washington, Paris, Berlin, London, the League of Nations in Geneva and the Vatican but in other countries they used the British diplomatic representation as described earlier in this article. The Irish Department of Finance had a large influence on the organisation of the country’s foreign policy. It was not until 1973, when the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Finance fought a battle in order to gain responsibility for the relations to the EEC that an actual shift in the balance of power happened. The Department of Foreign Affairs won the battle and since then it has experienced a natural expansion in both size and scope of influence. Naturally, the official contact, which as described above began in the 1960s, was only a manifestation of the fact that the communication between Denmark and Ireland increased within a number of other fields. In 1935, Danish exports to Ireland amounted to DKK 2.4 million and imports from Ireland amounted to DKK 0.225 million. At the time of the first application to the EEC in 1963, the figures were DKK 93.5 million and 5 million respectively. Subsequent to the membership of the EEC a further increase in trade took place in the 1980s. In 1980, the figures were DKK 496 million and DKK 334 million. Commerce increased gradually

throughout the 80s, but imports increased most drastically and in 1987 the first Danish import surplus was a reality, and (except for 1993) this has been the case ever since. In the 1990s commerce has likewise increased gradually but at the end of the decade the import surplus was eliminated simultaneously with a high increase in exports. In 1999 an increase of 106 per cent was experienced and exports amounted to DKK 4.848 billion and imports to DKK 3.885 billion. Another sign of the marked increase in commerce is the numbers of flights connecting Denmark and Ireland. Only three years ago there was no direct flight whereas at present, there are four direct flights daily, seven days a week. A number of Danish companies, approximately 50, have set up subsidiaries or the like in Ireland and even a few Danish production companies, including two big companies in the Dublin region, have started up. As a minor matter of curiosity it can be mentioned that Gunnar Larsen, one of the F. L. Smith Group’s co-owners and Minister for Transport during World War II, moved to Ireland in 1954. It is believed that Gunnar Larsen’s family requested that he moved because of actions he had taken during the war. Gunnar Larsen had been held in custody in 1946, acquitted from the Danish High Court and in 1948 he received the final affirmation at the Danish Supreme Court. In Ireland Gunnar Larsen founded Ireland’s first cement industry, Irish Cement, and became a respected businessman. He died in 1973. In 1999 F. L. Smith, Denmark’s largest conglomerate, purchased a large Irish state-owned plane maintenance facility, Team Aer Lingus, now called Team FLS, and it is Dublin’s largest workplace with almost 2000 employees. Within the cultural field, the intercourse has also increased considerably. In the 1990s there have among others been exhibitions of paintings and photos as well as concerts, which in 1998 reached a peak with the previously mentioned cultural promotion ‘Out of Denmark’. In addition to this,

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The Hidden Island: An Outline of Danish-Irish Relations in 1000 years the cultural interchange continues with summer courses on Scandinavia at one of Dublin’s universities, visits by authors, the Viking exhibition in Roskilde, etc. Tourism in Ireland has likewise grown. In 1996 the number of Danish tourists came to a total of 22,000 and in 1999 the figure had increased to 30,000. Figures representing Irish tourists in Denmark are estimated to be quite similar. These indicators express a highly increased intercourse between Denmark and Ireland concurrently with our membership of the EU but probably also concurrently with the greatly improved Irish economy and the fact that the country is now internationally orientated and much more selfconfident. Particularly in the last part of the 1990s, the Irish economy has undergone a decisive improvement counting one of the world’s highest growth rates – and definitely the highest growth rate among the OECD member states – of approximately 8 per cent. Unemployment has fallen from 11.5 per cent in 1996 to approximately 5 per cent in 1999. GDP has increased from DKK 42.1 million in 1996 to DKK 85.3 million in 1999, which is an increase of 102.5 per cent. In 1999 the inflation was 1.5 per cent but it is increasing. It should also be mentioned that the peace process in Northern Ireland, which in the 1990s was initiated by cease-fire, different declarations, etc., reached its climax with the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Agreement and the setting up of the local government have likewise contributed to an increased intercourse between Ireland and the rest of the world, including Denmark. In this connection it is worth mentioning that Denmark, more precisely Lemvig, in the 1970s played a small part in the troubles in Northern Ireland. Families in Lemvig threw their doors wide open and set their minds to care for Irish children who lived in Derry and had suffered from the troubles in the North. However, the Danish-Irish intercourse has increased simultaneously with the discovery of our

common history. It was not until the 1970s when the essential excavations in Wood Quay in Dublin were under way that it was clear that the Vikings had founded Dublin. The excavations were carried out by the archaeologist, Dr. Patrick F. Wallace, who is now director at the Irish National Museum. Thus, our contact began more than 1200 years ago but according to the latest book on Irish history ‘The Making of Ireland’ by Dr. James Lydon (1998), the Scandinavian settlers kept to themselves at first. It appears that the first proof of actual integration among the Vikings and the Irish goes back to the 10th and 11th centuries and it is seen in the shape of the influence on art, coins, place names and marriages. It is therefore one of history’s funny coincidences that the two periods of time when the intercourse between Denmark and Ireland was greatest happened to be at the turn of the first and second millenniums. The first epoch was probably marked mostly by the Vikings’ influence on the Irish – though not as one-sided as first assumed, cf. above – however, the influence is today mutual between the descendants of the Vikings and the Irish. In fact the Irish influence might be the greatest if one is to judge from the export figures until now and Irish culture, including literature (contemporary Irish authors’ works are translated into Danish and are selling well), Irish music (The Chieftains, U2, The Corrs, Boyzone, etc) and Irish dancing (Riverdance and Lord of the Dance). The Danes have also taken to the Irish pubs, which are very popular in Denmark. Obviously, it is difficult to measure in which way the influence goes, but it is for certain that the mutual relations are great these days and have reached their zenith of the last 1000 years. During the Taoiseach’s visit to Denmark in 1999, he and his Danish colleague agreed that the relations between their two countries had never been as good and widespread as today. Statistics, official statements, research and writing of history are all important elements in order 163

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Ulrik Federspiel to uncover circumstances such as the Danish-Irish relations. Nevertheless, poets can from time to time present us with a much stronger expression and indication of the fact that an analysis can be made. In that respect it is fortunate that Ireland’s greatest contemporary author, Nobel Prize Winner Mr Seamus Heaney, takes an interest in the Viking Age and our common history. In his collection of poems ‘North’ he deals both with history and the Vikings in The Grauballe Man and Viking Dublin. Likewise, Seamus Heaney’s latest work, a translation published in 1999 of the approximately 1000 year-old English poem ‘Beowulf ’ is primarily about Denmark. The poem or the epic begins with the following words:

So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness. We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns

Notes (1) I would very much like to thank the trainee at the embassy in Dublin in 1997, the then student of history Martin Ellehøj, now principal in the Danish Foreign Ministry, for his invaluable research on which this account is based. (2) I want to thank The National Archives in Dublin, Royal Danish Embassy, Dublin and Rigsarkivet in Copehagen for allowing me to use documents and records from their archives.

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The island flows with milk and honey, there is no shortage of wine, fish and birds and it is remarkable for its deer and goats ... Beda, 8th century.

Ireland is almost the best of all countries one knows about Konungs Skuggsj , chapter 50, 13th century.

The Vikings in Ireland Edited by Anne-Christine Larsen, Roskilde 2001

Anne-Christine Larsen - Vikings in Ireland, The